One of the surprise, yet significant, problems with driverless cars is that we’re all going to end up feeling sick.
Well perhaps not everyone, but for as many as half the adult population reportedly affected by motion sickness, not having the road to concentrate on could increase how long car journeys feel.
The reason we feel motion sickness when reading or looking at a phone in a car is due to a sensory conflict “between inputs from the visual and vestibular systems” — put simply, what you see doesn’t match up with what you’re feeling. Researchers at Michigan University now hope they have found a fix for this with their patented “light array system” that simulates the movement of the vehicle in your peripheral vision.
“It is known that having moving lights on the border of a display for on-board video viewing substantially reduces the extent of motion sickness. However, this countermeasure is display specific — it is tied to the video monitor, and it stops being effective when one looks away from the monitor. Furthermore, when performing tasks without video screens (such as reading a book), the countermeasure is not applicable,” the patent explains.
See related Ford wants you to share driverless cars by 2021 Uber is trying to cure passengers’ motion sickness with air bursts and vibrating seats
In order to ensure the moving lights are visible all the time, the researchers therefore experimented with placing the system on glasses and within the passenger area of the car, both of which are covered by the patent.
“The principles of the present teachings have a wide range of applicability and can be applied to any passenger compartment of a moving vehicle or device where visual perception of natural cues may be limited. These principles can be incorporated in to any one of a number of devices or interiors, such as but not limited to, the rim of glasses, goggles, or other headgear and/or within the passenger compartment of a moving vehicle, such as in the pillars, headliner, roof, sidewalls, doors, seats, floor, dashboard, console, windows or areas traditionally used as windows, and the like.”
It’s not the first time we’ve seen attempts to cure motion sickness in autonomous cars. Uber has already patented a system that uses a combination of vibrating seats, blasts of air and a light bar to help trick the brain.
If this new system is as effective as the Michigan scientists claim, it’d be great to see the technology implemented in traditional, human-controlled cars too, especially in back seats where you’re more prone to turning a bit green.