Self-Driving Cars Will Make You Sick


Tue, Jun 2nd, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

If you have ever been a passenger in a car and have tried to read or use your mobile phone, you've probably experienced nausea. On Quartz, John McDuling warns that with the advent of the self-driving car, all we might be able to do is to simply stare at the road in front of us.

But there are other, simpler reasons why we should be cautious about self-driving cars: they could make you sick. At least that’s if people end up doing what they say they will do in them. Surveys indicate that while the most common thing people expect to do in self-driving cars is (amusingly) stare at the roads, perhaps due to aforementioned nervousness, most people also think they will be able to do things like watch videos, read, play games, work, text, and browse the internet. For this reason, lots of people already think content companies could be major beneficiaries from the self-driving car revolution.

The problem is that these types of activities are also the types of thing that increase the frequency and severity of motion sickness. A recent study by University of Michigan professor Michael Sivak looks at this very issue.

However, we still have a long way to go before a fully self-driving vehicle capable of driving from city to city -- never mind in a city -- will be fully ready.

You hear a lot about how Google cars have driven an amazing number of miles without accidents. You hear less, however, about how they have achieved this feat: by 3-D mapping every inch of those roads so that the car has a database of every stationary object, from traffic lights to guardrails. That allows the car to devote its processing power to analyzing the movement of objects that aren't in its database.

Such mapping is incredibly labor intensive, which is why, according to Lee Gomes, those amazing mile counts that Google's driverless cars are racking up "are the same few thousand mapped miles, driven over and over again." Most of them are near Google's headquarters in Mountain View, a place that gets only 15 inches of rain a year and never has snow or ice -- three common weather hazards that long-haul truckers must frequently contend with.



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