VW is Developing Anti-Motion Sickness Technology for Autonomous Cars
Volkswagen’s self-driving cars are sick, but they won’t make you car sick.
At the VW research labs in Wolfsburg, Germany, smart people are observing the root causes of motion sickness and figuring out ways to prevent it from happening to people who “drive” autonomous vehicles. This comes as great news for sufferers of motion sickness, who make up about a third of the population in America, according to VW.
Motion sickness happens when your eyes see different motion than what your body is feeling. In other words, reading while riding in a car makes some people vomit because they’re looking at a relatively motionless object while their body is technically traveling as fast as the car. Some people are more susceptible to motion sickness than others, however.
During the VW field experiments in Wolfsburg, volunteers rode in a driverless vehicle equipped with cameras, sensors, and other scientific instruments designed to measure their health and bodily functions. The high-tech gadgets measure pulse, body temperature, and changes in skin tone. In fact, the volunteers actually rode in a self-driving car that was following behind a semi-autonomous Passat for a 20-minute drive, while researchers collected and studied data. A video of a swimming fish played for volunteers on a tablet, and they were instructed to watch the video and report how they felt several times throughout the ride. VW has yet to release the data from these experiments.
What’s the solution for the sickness?
Nothing yet, but one potential solution that VW researchers are working on involves LED strips on the car’s door panel flashing red or green to provide a visual cue to the passenger that indicates when the car is about to brake or accelerate. Additionally, researchers are exploring the idea that special movable seats could adapt to sudden movements and reduce the effects of motion sickness.
Your stomach may not be ready, but autonomous cars are on their way!
As consumers gain access to this new generation of transportation, researchers will try to keep up with the new problems that arise with the unfamiliar technology, and hopefully, they’ll provide solutions quickly.
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