Self-Driving Cars: Fewer Accidents, But More Motion Sickness

Cars increasingly drive themselves. If tech companies have their way, then entirely autonomous vehicles will be the future as soon as possible. But that future isn’t exactly primed to be glorious for everyone. For those of us at all prone to motion sickness, that future — despite being lower on accidents and higher on energy efficiency — is not going to be fun.

Quartz reports on a recent study conducted at the University of Michigan that points out something many of us have been avoiding: if you’re not driving the car, you’re going to need to do something else with that time. And if you’re reading, watching a video, or doing a whole host of other stuff, you’re drastically upping the chances of a motion sickness episode.

Most people who are prone to motion sickness have more trouble as passengers than as drivers. When we’re controlling the car and focusing our attention ahead of us, we mainly do okay. But when we’re passengers in a vehicle of whatever sort, the dissonance between what we’re looking at and where we’re going can create a, well, gut reaction.

Researchers asked what most people plan to do while their car is driving itself and while a surprisingly high number answered that they’d stare at the road, about 37% said they’d be using that time about the same way folks commuting by conventional mass transit do: reading, working, typing, watching videos, and so on. And all of those activities are more likely to increase motion sickness.

The verdict? Somewhere between 6% and 10% of Americans riding in self-driving cars will probably experience motion sickness more often than not. Biking to work is suddenly starting to look a lot more appealing.

Driverless cars are going to make some people puke [Quartz]

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