Too Sick to Drive: How Motion Sickness Severity Impacts Human Performance

Joseph Smyth, Paul Jennings, Alex Mouzakitis, Stewart Birrell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceedingpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
170 Downloads (Pure)


There are multiple concerns surrounding the development and rollout of self-driving cars. One issue has largely gone unnoticed - the adverse effects of motion sickness as induced by self-driving cars. The literature suggests conditionally, highly and fully autonomous vehicles will increase the onset likelihood and severity of motion sickness. Previous research has shown motion sickness can have a significant negative impact on human performance. This paper uses a simulator study design with 51 participants to assess if the scale of motion sickness is a predictor of human performance degradation. This paper finds little proof that subjective motion sickness severity is an effective indicator of the scale of human performance degradation. The performance change of participants with lower subjective motion sickness is mostly statistically indistinguishable from those with higher subjective sickness. Conclusively, those with even acute motion sickness may be just as affected as those with higher sickness, considering human performance. Building on these results, it could indicate motion sickness should be a consideration for understanding user ability to regain control of a self-driving vehicle, even if not feeling subjectively unwell. Effectiveness of subjective scoring is discussed and future research is proposed to help ensure the successful rollout of self-driving vehicles.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication 2018 21st International Conference on Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITSC)
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-7281-0323-5
ISBN (Print)978-1-7281-0321-1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes
Event21st IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Transportation Systems, ITSC 2018 - Maui, United States
Duration: 4 Nov 20187 Nov 2018

Publication series

NameIEEE Conference on Intelligent Transportation Systems, Proceedings, ITSC


Conference21st IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Transportation Systems, ITSC 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Automotive Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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