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Why turning up the satnav could help cure your children’s car sickness


Jaguar Land Rover reckons that developments in autonomous-car technology and electronic driver aids can help cure you of car sickness. Seventy per cent of us suffer from motion sickness, it say, yet “little has been known about the causes and how to mitigate them”.

The carmaker’s autonomous-driving experts, based at the company’s research lab in Shannon, in Co Clare, have taken data from a series of tests, including thousands of kilometres of test driving, to try to divine the secrets of motion sickness, and the sort of vehicle movements that cause it.

That data is now being turned into an algorithm that can monitor a passenger’s reactions to movements and their so-called wellness and adjust the car’s driving style accordingly. It will be included in automated- and autonomous-driving software, and the company claims that it can reduce the effects of motion sickness by as much as 60 per cent.

Jaguar Land Rover claims that its biometric sensors can detect when someone is becoming car sick even before they know themselves

“As we move towards an autonomous future where occupants will have more time to either work, read or relax on longer journeys, it’s important we develop vehicles that can adapt to reduce the effects of motion sickness in a way that’s tailored to each passenger,” says Spencer Salter, head of human science research at the company.

The intelligent software combines 30,000 real-world and virtually simulated test kilometres to calculate a set of parameters for driving dynamics to be rated against. Advanced machine learning then ensures the car can optimise its driving style based on data gathered from every kilometre driven by the autonomous fleet. This technology can then be used to teach each Jaguar and Land Rover vehicle how to drive autonomously, while maintaining the individual characteristics of each model.

Jaguar Land Rover claims that its biometric sensors can detect when someone is becoming car sick even before they know themselves. “This cutting-edge research has created a solution that, with its solid scientific foundation, can make travelling enjoyable, regardless of your susceptibility to motion sickness. As a parent of young children, who are most susceptible to car sickness, I am particularly excited by the benefits this research can have in making long journeys comfortable and stress-free for families,” says Dr Steve Iley, the company’s chief medical officer.

“Mobility is rapidly changing, and we will need to harness the power of self-driving vehicles to achieve our goal of zero accidents and zero congestion. Solving the problem of motion sickness in driverless cars is the key to unlocking the huge potential of this technology for passengers, who will be able to use the travelling time for reading, working or relaxing.”

Turning up the satnav’s voice instructions is key: simply hearing the directions means people subconsciously prepare themselves for the car’s movements

While the technology is being used to teach software that will one day control a fully autonomous car, the research has also led to some simpler modifications that can be implemented now to help mitigate the effects of motion sickness.

These include raising infotainment screens, as it’s reckoned that simply mounting them 10cm higher can reduce motion sickness by as much as 40 per cent. The seating position is also key, as is having the satnav’s voice instructions turned up – simply hearing the directions means people subconsciously prepare themselves for the car’s movements.

“In a post-Covid-19 world, where a ‘new normal’ is emerging, customer expectations of private transport are changing, and the focus will be on safe, clean mobility where personal space and hygiene will carry a premium,” the company says.

“New technologies and materials are being developed to meet these expectations at Jaguar Land Rover with today’s vehicles designed to help improve passenger wellbeing, including a driver condition monitor and antimicrobial wireless device charging. In addition, features such as cooling seats, ambient lighting and multiple seat configurations are proven to significantly reduce the likelihood of motion sickness.”

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