THE notion of reading a book or tablet while sitting in a self-drive car could be more sickening than appealing say British researchers who are busy using vehicle simulators study the effects of motion sickness.
With more people set to be reading or using screens in their autonomous cars, the researchers are turning to simulation technology to prevent car sickness in the next generation of autonomous cars.
Motion sickness is already a problem for many passengers but is tipped to reach epidemic proportions when we all become passengers.
The simulators being used to study motion sickness do not simply measure human reactions; they can also be used to prototype vehicles and different on-car components in a virtual reality format.
This is particularly important for autonomous cars because they have a complex array of sensors and on-board systems which need to work with each other. The value of a driving simulator in the design process allows engineers to swap and test individual components in thousands of different scenarios without needing to actually build a car to start with.
And this is where the technology can be put to work on motion sickness, which is caused when the images we see fall out of sync with the movement we feel.
Experts are already predicting that between six and 12 percent of Americans will get sick travelling in an autonomous vehicle.
Passengers reading a book or watching a video while travelling sometimes feel uncomfortable because there is a disconnect between what is being seen and what is being felt with peripheral vision images causing even more confusion.
The driving simulator lets designers change things like window shapes, road surface vibrations and sound levels caused by suspension components.
With more opportunities for passengers to read and use screens in future autonomous cars, engineers are already looking to simulation to find solutions. Nausea can be induced by adjusting the simulator's settings, allowing researchers to see the immediate effect on vehicle occupants while they are reading or doing other tasks.
By swapping around various virtual components in or on the simulated vehicle, designers can see which combinations give the smoothest ride.
The future, researchers suggest, will be significantly less nauseating as the need for pre-testing components in simulators becomes even more crucial with the transition to autonomous vehicles.
Engineers suggest computer systems will be designed to work with human quirks and flaws and say the introduction of driving simulators to the design process should be a good sign because not only will they help autonomous vehicles cope with the things that make us human, they 'll also help make travelling a much better experience.
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