The field of self-driving cars is very appealing to researchers and to big names in technology as well. By the time the smartwatches started to atract the interest of big companies, the area of the autonomous car, which is a sci fi dream struggling to become reality, started to look like a market and big names announced investments in research for developing prototypes and testing them to prove that such a dream could be turned into the new reality of modern transport. So, the self-driving car concept is at the moment one of the most discussed in the academic communities and engineers work hard to figure out ways to implement environments prepared for the arrival of the big dream. For example, Google has announced that it is currently working on such a vehicle. Also, Audi and General Motors have expressed their intention for coming up with an autonomous prototype. The American motor company Ford stated that it plans to start working on a self-driving car, but only after the research is finished and a technology is elaborated. People who are concerned with this hot topic started discussions about Apple`s interest in the field and it seems like the American tech giant is determined to give this not yet fully explored sector a try and enter the market as the laws are being established and they can participate to this process.
However, there are some aspects that have not yet been taken into account, as a new study reveals. Tests have been taken by the self driving prototypes but they did not put everything to question. For example, as it was highlighted by the recent study, the effects on the passengers of a vehicle which no longer requires a chauffeur.
In addition, experts started to talk about the disadvantages of transport via a vehicle controlled by a computer. They say that the autonomous cars could turn out to be the first fatal robots of our era. Hacking the computers which control the cars could prove to be deadly and it represents a major point of controversy in terms of how the system which operates the vehicle could be protected against cyber attacks. The arrival of the self-driving car, which has been for decades a subject for the sci fi novels or movies, is a grand phenomenon and the regulators want to find out precisely how producers will handle this fantastic change.
Motion sickness seems to be one of the most important aspects of self-driving cars which has been ignored until now by producers and reviewers alike. The Transportation Research Institute affiliated to the University of Michigan led a study concerned with the problem of motion sickness in connection to the autonomous vehicles. In order to observe this connection, the researchers accomplished a survey which aimed to uncover the passengers` intentions and hypothetical activities that they would like to undertake while taking a ride with a car they no longer need to drive themselves.
The responses of the people who participated to this survey were not surprising. They said that among the most preferred activities while taking such a trip would be reading, playing games, watching videos or talking to their family or friends. So what`s the problem, you may ask. Scientists have an answer for you.
The problem with these activities on a self-driving trip is that reading or texting or playing games require the subject`s full attention, in contradistinction to following the route that the car passes on or taking a nap while your vehicle gets you from point A to point B. So there would be a conflict between the subject`s visual senses and the vestibular system of their body. The main function of the vestibular system of our bodies is to perceive motion thus contributing to the sense of balance one has. This conflict is the one responsible for motion sickness.
According to the results of the studies, which have taken into consideration the responses of the people who participated to the survey regarding hypothetical activities in a self-driving vehicle, the researchers concluded that motion sickness is a problem that should be given increased attention.
The scientists showed that between 6 per cent and 10 per cent of an autonomous vehicle`s passengers would almost every time experience severe motion sickness. In addition to that, between 6 per cent and 12 per cent of the American adults (based on the survey`s results) riding an autonomous vehicle would experience moderate motion sickness from time to time.
“Not enough attention has been paid to this important issue. It is an issue that needs to be dealt with, especially since being able to do many of the activities that increase motion sickness is touted as one of the benefits of self-driving vehicles.”
sated Michael Sivak, co-author of the study, in an e-mail sent to Fortune.
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