There is a widespread public expectation that autonomous vehicles will offer comfort levels almost similar to that of a living room. In order to strengthen this hope, Ricardo is developing a new technology that will minimise motion sickness. It will be applicable also for conventional vehicles.
The imminent introduction of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) has brought on a widespread consumer expectation of a highly comfortable travelling experience in which passengers will be able to work, read from a screen, watch movies or engage in business discussions while on the move, perhaps seated in a swivelled, side-or rear-facing position. All these can be trigger factors for kinetosis (motion sickness). Providing technological solutions to solve this discomfiture is likely to be crucial for consumer acceptance of CAVs.
Kinetosis, in general, is believed to be the result of dissonance between senses, caused by a disconnect between the motion as experienced by the inner ear and what the eyes are perceiving – a vestibular-visual mismatch. The classic Treisman’s hypothesis suggests that such a disconnect mimics the hallucinatory effects of severe food poisoning. This effect can be compounded by the peripheral vision flicker experienced as a result of the vehicle’s motion by those reading, watching screens or engaged in direct, face-to-face conversations. Children and teenagers are thought to suffer the most from kinetosis since development of the central nervous system tends to lag behind physical growth, giving an even greater vestibular-visual mismatch.
A Ricardo Innovations research team has been investigating the causes and exacerbating factors for kinetosis and is using this to develop algorithms that can be used to improve ride comfort and avoid motion sickness. For all vehicles, the software would be advantageous in informing the optimal specification of suspension to provide the most desirable ride and handling characteristics. Additionally, for autonomous vehicles, the algorithms could be used with the real-time adaptation of multiple sensory aspects of the cabin environment – control of temperature, lighting and scent – as well as influencing the discretionary path taken in manoeuvres such as cornering, stopping, starting and overtaking.
Testing has already been carried out using adult volunteers to help calibrate the kinetosis algorithms, but more data is needed for the four to 18 year-olds, the group likely to benefit most from this technology. To this end, the Ricardo team is working with a UK university partner in a large-scale research programme with the participation of local schoolchildren –carefully monitored in accordance with the stringent ethical and safeguarding standards.
The project, the results of which are expected to be available for algorithm validation later this year, will be tied to the science curriculum and has been greeted with enthusiasm by teachers. As well-being is important in the development of autonomous vehicle control systems, the data obtained will also be extremely valuable in validating the kinetosis algorithms for application in any new vehicle design.
This promising Ricardo technology is attracting serious interest from OEMs developing both autonomous cars and conventional premium vehicles, and from those developing mobility-as-a-service products. As such, it could transform the way we travel in the future, either piloted by a human driver or an autonomous vehicle control system.
Bollinger Selects Ricardo
Ricardo Defense, Inc., has been selected for the production and supply of the braking system including Antilock Brake System and Electronic Stability Control (ABS/ESC) for the world’s first all-electric sport utility trucks, the Bollinger B1 and B2 models
“We are excited to be selected by Bollinger Motors to provide the hydraulic brake system including callipers and our electronic brake control systems,” Chet Gryczan, President, Ricardo Defense, said.
“We chose Ricardo Defense,” said Robert Bollinger, CEO Bollinger Motors, “because the Ricardo braking system leverages best-in-class engineering and components and has proven itself in demanding military applications.”
Bollinger Motors has received over 25,000 reservations for their all-electric trucks. Production of the company’s electric B1 Sport Utility Truck and electric B2 Pickup Truck is scheduled to start in 2020.