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University of Michigan Team Creates Test Protocol for Evaluating Carsickness

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As the industry moves closer to autonomous cars, it’s normal to anticipate the extra free time that giving up the driver’s seat will bring. But, if you’re a part of the one-third of Americans who get carsick, you might not be able to fully enjoy this imminent freedom.

Yet there’s some good news — a team of researchers at University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) recently developed the first repeatable and reliable testing protocol for evaluating carsickness. 

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The story behind the protocol

Interestingly enough, many studies on motion sickness have been conducted in an airplane or boat environment. Up until now, few tests have been done in actual cars. So, many of these tests have been based on nausea rather than passenger comfort.

When developing their protocol, the UMTRI team focused on questions like whether or not a passenger could be productive during the drive, or if they could comfortably use a handheld device during it.

The team’s protocol

Per Tech Xplore, the team’s protocol defines how to measure passengers’ sensations during a road trip. It also identifies the specific conditions that trigger feelings of carsickness.

The protocol consists of a 20-minute test drive in which a designated test passenger completes tasks on a handheld mini-iPad. Sensors record the vehicle’s acceleration and geospatial location as well as the participant’s physiological response (i.e. skin temperature, heart rate, sweat). There are also cameras and sensors that record the passenger’s posture and head movement.

During the drive, the participants carried on an open-ended chat to verbally describe the sensations they experienced at regular intervals. They also rated their symptoms based on the team’s motion sickness scale, with “0” meaning no motion sickness and “10” meaning “need to stop the vehicle.”

Concluding thoughts

Currently, the team plans to develop a nuanced mathematical model of motion sickness from this protocol. They hope that automakers will use this model to inform the design and technologies of self-driving cars. For example, it could guide OEMs on how to arrange the windows and seating area of their AVs.

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News Source: Tech Xplore