Testing Autonomous Cars With Motion-Sickness Tech

While safety is the number one concern of those working on autonomous cars, there’s another hurdle that self-driving car engineers are working on — alleviating motion sickness. The German automotive company, Volkswagen, is taking necessary steps to address the potential issues of self-driving cars causing passengers to become nauseous.

Maybe you haven’t thought about motion sickness as an issue when riding in an autonomous vehicle, but if you give it some more thought, it makes sense.

Have you ever felt nauseous riding shotgun after looking down at your phone for an extended period of time? It’s the same principle here. When the body can’t anticipate change in speed and/or direction and take time to make necessary adaptations, the result can be a queasy feeling, or worse.

Drivers can more readily adapt their bodies to avoid motion sickness while driving, but if no one is driving, that’s one more person in the car who is susceptible to feeling nauseous.

Research Now, Enact Later

Though our favorite BMW engineers are working towards a fully autonomous vehicle, the mainstream reveal of fully autonomous vehicles is still at least a decade away. One of the biggest hurdles will be legislation after the technology fully rolls out. However, VW is thinking ahead and working to prevent nausea from putting a barrier between people and self-driving cars.

So how are they doing this? VW is performing tests by having passengers watch a video on a tablet while a car takes a 20-minute drive around a track. The passenger is connected to sensors that detect changes in heart rate, skin temperature and changes in skin tone.

These test subjects say they didn’t think they were particularly sensitive to motion sickness in the past, but they admitted to feeling the effects of it after only a few minutes of watching the video on the tablet while the car moved.

Researchers are exploring the potential of using adjustable seats that can react to driving changes. Another thought would be to install an LED light strip on the door panel that illuminates in green and red, which would provide a visual cue for the passenger to expect braking or acceleration.

Forward Thinking

While these early tests and studies are helpful, they will only pave the way for more thorough, in-depth experiments. For example, Jaguar has already begun some research into autonomous motion-sickness tech, too. Perhaps we’ll see Bimmers with this technology in the near future!

Even with the mainstream future of self-driving cars a decade away, we might eventually thank VW for developing anti-sickness tech for our favorite German cars.

5 Tips for Nailing Your First Summer Project Car

The weather is warm, the sun is shining, school is out, and that all means one thing. Summer is officially here, and that means it’s the perfect time to start a new car project. If this summer is going to showcase your first project car, here are some tips and tricks to help you nail your first summer project car.

1. Beware of Rust

If you’re looking for a budget project car, remember one golden rule: beware of rust. You may find a spot or two here and there — it happens with older cars, no matter how well they’re taken care of — but don’t take on a tremendous rust restoration job as your first project.

It’ll cost you a ton of money and chances are high that you’ll give up half-way through because it’s too much for a beginner to handle. Plus, if you pick up a project car that’s got rust on the frame, you might as well take it to the junkyard. Beware of rust when choosing your new project.

2. Stick To Your Budget

Project cars aren’t cheap but that doesn’t mean you should mortgage your house to rebuild your project — unless you’re planning on living in it, and we don’t recommend that. Set yourself a budget — either monthly or per paycheck, whatever works best for you. — and stick to it, within reason.

If the part you need is on sale and it’s a little bit over your budget for the period, feel free to buy it, especially if the price will be back to normal by the time your budget resets. For the most part, though, stick to your budget and don’t empty the bank trying to rebuild your summer project car.

3. Choose an Easy Build

Don’t pick the most complicated — or the newest — car to restore for your summer project. A lot of more modern cars rely on computers and advanced electronics that it seems like you need a degree in electrical engineering to figure out. Start with something simple, like:

  • Scion xB – The exterior is kind of goofy looking, but the engine is easy to work on and easy to boost.
  • Lexus SC 300 — You can pick up a used early to mid-90s Lexus for less than $7,000, and they’re fantastic beginner resto cars.
  • Any Honda Civic — There are so many aftermarket parts for the Honda Civic that you won’t even know where to start.

Start with something easy and work your way up to the more complicated projects as you gain experience and confidence.

4. Make a Plan

Now that you’ve got your project car on-hand, it’s time to start planning out your project. What do you want to do first — get it running, modify the engine, or improve the exterior?

Write out the big steps first, then break each of these down into smaller projects. If you want to get it running, for example, the first thing you need to do is figure out why it’s not.

5. Don’t Just Bolt Things On

We mentioned bolt-ons for the Honda Civic and while the parts might fit that doesn’t mean you should just start bolting on every add-on that crosses your path.

There’s no guarantee that your stock engine will survive the extra power of a supercharger or turbo, even if you install it correctly. Work up to major power modifications slowly, and make sure that you aren’t going to blow up your engine the first time you rev it up.

Don’t Rush, and Enjoy Yourself

Don’t rush through your project car this summer, especially if it’s the first one you’ve ever done. Enjoy it, because while you may work on new projects over the years, you will never work on your very first summer project car ever again.

BMW M3 to Sport Rear-Wheel-Drive

BThe CEO of Mercedes-AMG, Tobias Moers, recently announced his company would no longer consider RWD cars for Mercedes’ go-faster division. All performance vehicles from Affalterbach will have a 4Matic setup. While this may seem like a progressive choice, BMW’s Markus Flasch sees the subject differently.

As the Chairman of the Board of Management for BMW’s M division, Flasch has taken a distinctly separate approach to the issue than Moers. Flasch argues that rear-wheel drive is still relevant for some segments of the market, and the BMW M3 will sport the feature. His logic is relatively easy to follow.

An AWD layout is more suitable for medium and larger cars, which customers tend to drive throughout the entirety of the year. Smaller and cheaper M cars — like the M2, M3 and M4 — usually remain in an owner’s garage in inclement conditions. They’ll often take them out when the weather is good, less so when it’s not.

Because of this, Flasch is determined to keep RWD alive as he continues to pursue xDrive, and in doing so, remain faithful to the spirit of the M division. Though he won’t please everyone, Flasch believes he’ll satisfy most BMW enthusiasts. Regardless, he has other exciting developments in line for the coming decade.

Progress and Innovation

Beyond the BMW M3’s rear-wheel drive, Flasch has also announced plans for new CS models. They won’t necessarily take the form of a coupe, and you may even see that CS suffix attached to an SUV sometime in the far future. Of course, these comments strongly suggest that BMW may bring back the CSL.

Flasch didn’t provide any model names, but the M2 is the likeliest candidate to benefit from this treatment if the Coupe Sport Leichtbau makes a comeback. However Flasch chooses to proceed, BMW enthusiasts can feel secure knowing the company’s highly regarded performance division is in capable hands.

With Flasch behind the wheel, it’s safe to say that BMW is on the right track. His ambition for a hypercar in the M division is one of the prime examples of his innovative mindset. Though his predecessor, Frankus Van Meel, ruled out the possibility of a hypercar in 2017, Flasch is taking things in another direction.

In the past, BMW has shown a reluctance to broach the subject of supercars and hypercars. However, Flasch feels that a low-emissions supercar is feasible with help from BMW’s i division. He’s shown an interest in collaboration between the M and i divisions, and the product of their teamwork will likely turn heads.

Looking Toward the Future

Flasch has a clear vision for the future of BMW’s M division. In addition to the rear-wheel drive for the BMW M3, enthusiasts should remain on the lookout for more exciting developments in the months and years ahead. The potential release of a low-emissions supercar is only a taste of what’s to come.

As Flasch moves forward with his plans for BMW, it’s reasonable to speculate his division will see a significant transformation. As it evolves and takes shape, enthusiasts will likely view the changes as positive, if not well-intentioned.

The Ultimate BMW Forum