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Self-driving cars will make us motion sick

Self-driving vehicles could bring on more cases of motion sickness in passengers than regular vehicles, new research has suggested.

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute’s Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle asked more than 3,000 adults from the UK, US, India, China, Japan and Australia what they would get up to inside a self-driving car instead of taking control of the wheel.

Almost 30 per cent of British respondents said they’d read, text, watch movies, play games or work, all of which would, according to the study, increase the likelihood and severity of motion sickness.

As a result, around 10 per cent of riders could experience “moderate or severe motion sickness” during a journey.

More than 60 per cent, on the other hand, said they’d either watch the road, talk on the phone or sleep instead, which “would not necessarily” lead to a dicky tummy.

Motion sickness is expected to be more of an issue in self-driving vehicles than in conventional vehicles,” said Sivak.

“The reason is that the three main factors contributing to motion sickness—conflict between vestibular (balance) and visual inputs, inability to anticipate the direction of motion and lack of control over the direction of motion—are elevated in self-driving vehicles.

“However, the frequency and severity of motion sickness is influenced by the activity that one would be involved in instead of driving.”

The researchers say that self-driving car manufacturers can minimise the chance of making their passengers feel ill by installing larger windows and fully-reclining seats that face forwards.

Far from the only emerging tech to pull on your chunder strings, virtual reality headsets have been plagued by complaints of motion sickness.

Related: Driverless Cars: Everything you need to know

Google reckons self-driving cars will hit the road within the next five years, though a survey of vehicle OEM execs suggests otherwise. In fact, the majority don’t expect to see Google’s vision become a reality in twice that time.

Rather scarily, the search giant also believes that driverless cars don’t require steering wheels or brakes, since humans are “not a reliable backup.”

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