More prone to car sickness in autonomous car
Car sickness is one of the most frequently occurring forms of motion sickness or kinetosis, as the illness is called in medical terms. With the advent of autonomous driving cars people will be more prone to car sickness because they don’t have their eyes on the road anymore, Dutch researcher Ouren Kuiper of the free university (Vrije Universiteit) predicts.
The movements of the car make people feel weak and miserable, especially at the back seats of the car. Looking ahead and focusing on the horizon is the best way to avoid car sickness. Reading a book at the back seat of the car is the ideal way to trigger car sickness. Children are more often prone to car sickness.
“When the signals of your eyes, balance system and muscles do not correspond to the signals your brain expects, you get carsick. That is why a car driver seldom gets sick: he’s looking ahead and anticipating on the movements of the car, so there is no discrepancy between the predicted and the perceived position of the body.”
“With the coming of the self-driving car more people will get carsick”, explains Ouren Kuiper. “People will read or work on their laptop while the car is moving on, which is one of the advantages of the autonomous car, but on the other hand they will be more sensitive to car sickness .”
Together with two colleagues Kuiper analyzed how to avoid car sickness in a self-driving car. People sitting on the passenger seat had to make some exercises on a screen while the car was slaloming.
Half of the human test subjects used a screen at the height of the glove compartment, the other half had a screen at eye level. The ones with the screen on eye level were less often sick than the ones looking down. The test subjects using the screen at eye level were less sensitive to the movements of the car because they could keep their eyes partly on the surroundings.
Visual or audible warning
Conclusion? Putting screens higher in the car can avoid car sickness. “There are more solutions to help avoiding sickness, though”, Kuiper concludes. “When you know that movements are coming, your body can ‘prepare’ itself for them. So a visual or a sound signal or even a vibration in the seat to ‘announce’ the movements of the car, could diminish the risk of being carsick.”