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Waymo Wants to Solve Driverless Car Sickness

Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving car subsidiary, has filed a patent for a technology that would prevent people from getting motion-sick in driverless vehicles.

Published last week, the patent application shows a complex method that would allow passengers to choose a route among a gamut of options varying in speed and “motion sickness value”—  depending on their proneness to sickness and on how much in a rush they are.


In addition, the filing explains, passengers could receive specific alerts reminding them to look straight ahead during their trip, rather than reading or looking down. People who are more likely to feel motion-sick would also get recommendation regarding where to seat in the car, in order to minimise the risk of not feeling well.

Waymo’s patent also says that an autonomous car could modify its driving style if one of the passenger reports that they are feeling motion-sick: for example it could change route to avoid stop-and-go traffic, or simply slow down to leave a wider gap with the vehicle in front of it.

The patent, which was originally filed in October 2016, comes as Waymo girds its loins before the launch of a world-first driverless ride-hailing service in Arizona. The service, which will initially be for free before switching to for-pay at a later stage, will deploy autonomous Chrysler minivans without any emergency driver— although there will be a concierge welcoming passengers onboard.

It makes sense therefore, that Waymo wants to work out a way for passengers to covey their sickness issues directly to the car, which will be able to change its driving style accordingly.

Car-sickness seems to be pretty high on the list of priorities for companies working on self-driving vehicles: in November, Uber published a similar patent detailing a system that involved the use of lights to warn passengers about upcoming sudden turns.

Image via FCA




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