Ricardo is developing a new technology that will minimise the risk of motion sickness in autonomous vehicles, a system that will hold benefit for conventionally driven vehicles as well. With the dawn of autonomous vehicles, passenger expectations revolve on being able to work, read or watch a screen while travelling. These can trigger kinetosis (motion sickness).
It is believed, Kinetosis is a result of dissonance between senses, caused by a disconnect between motion as experienced by the inner ear and what the eyes perceive. The classic Treisman’s hypothesis suggests that a disconnect causes hallucinatory effects of severe food poisoning. This effect can further be compounded by peripheral vision flicker experienced as a result of vehicle’s motion by passengers who are reading, watching screens or engaged in face-to-face conversations.
Ricardo’s innovations research team has been investigating causes and exacerbating factors of kinetosis. They are developing algorithms that can be used to improve ride comfort and deter the effects of motion sickness. The software would be advantageous in informing the optimal specification of suspension to provide the most desirable ride and handling characteristics. Testing has been carried out using adult volunteers to aid in calibrating the kinetosis algorithms but further data is needed on for 4 - 18 year old individuals. For this, Ricardo is working with UK university partners in a larger scale research programme that involves the participation of local school children. The data obtained will be very valuable and provide inputs for new vehicle design.
The technology from Ricardo has garnered interest from OEMs developing autonomous cars and conventional premium vehicles as well as from those developing mobility-as-a-service products. It holds the potential to transform the way humans travel in the future, and make journeys more comfortable.