With all the new projects in the industry of autonomous vehicles, we are expecting a bright future. There are, however, some basic human complications that need to be straightened out.
One of the main issues that have appeared so far is the very common motion sickness. On Wednesday, a team of researchers from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute released a somewhat troubling estimation: 6% to 12% of American adults will have more than a little problem with the driverless car experience due to moderate or severe motion sickness.
The report mentions that the large majority of those people will unfortunately struggle with sickness during the ride. Authors Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak explained that going from driver to passenger comes with the price of giving up control over the direction of motion. Unfortunately, we have no remedies for this phenomenon, so far.
The appealing of the autonomous car movement is receiving some bad light, even though analysts like Adam Jonas from Morgan Stanley imagine a future society where autonomous cars are the new normal.
In fact, Jonas has issued a paper on Tuesday describing the way he imagines the future “autopia”: thousands of completely autonomous vehicles, available by the touch of the smartphone, active 24 hours/day.
He added that in autopia, sharing cars will be a common practice, and their prices will be a mere 1/10th of the cost of current taxis. Riders will simply have to order a vehicle via smartphones with a few taps.
Jonas is positive that public transit systems will become redundant in this new world, on the verge of being gradually deactivated. Autonomous cars will be the norm, because subways, for example, will become too expensive to operate. (Are you also skeptical about the disappearance of subways? You’d be right to feel this way.)
But transiting to a fully driverless world is surely a more complex and profound process than Jonas can anticipate. According to the UMTRI report, there are two important natural impediments: “the degree of conflict between vestibular and visual inputs” and “the ability to anticipate the direction of motion” – both representing triggers for motion sickness episodes.
There are many options that could cancel these factors and make the ride in such a car more pleasant. One of them is an adapted design that will allow the passengers to lie flat on their backs during the ride, minimizing the visual field that causes our brains to trigger motion sickness.
Even though completely driverless cars are still decades away, there are a lot of issues that need to be resolved until then.
Besides offering a comfortable ride to the passengers, scientists need to come up with a solution for what is called “the last-mile problem” – a car can be programmed to handle 99.9% of scenarios on the road, but there will always be a 0.1% of situations when it doesn’t know what to do.
Image Source: Autoguide