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Are Electric Cars and Electric Buses Giving Riders Motion Sickness?

Are Electric Cars and Electric Buses Giving Riders Motion Sickness?

Electric cars and zero-emission buses (ZEBs) have revolutionized the way we think about powering our vehicles. No one can deny the environmental benefits of EVs. The reduction in both fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions make this an important part of the path to a sustainable future. But an unexpected phenomenon has started to emerge: Some passengers are reporting that riding in EVs and ZEBs has caused them (and even their pets) to experience motion sickness.

So, what is it about EVs that has some people yearning for solid ground?

Why Can EVs Trigger Carsickness?

The phenomenon is unquestionably real, but why are electric vehicles causing occupants to feel sick? A 2020 study from Vrije University in the Netherlands suggests that one of the culprits could, ironically, be one of the major draws: EVs’ exceptionally quiet operation and smooth ride. Researchers found that riders who heard engine noise and felt vibration experienced significantly less motion sickness than riders who did not.

The reasoning is that sensory information should match the expected physical sensation of movement. When cues like engine sound and vibration are absent, riders tend not to expect the motion. This triggers “vestibular conflict,” making people feel carsick. The introduction of ever larger in-vehicle “infotainment” screens and the use of regenerative braking can further induce motion sickness in passengers. Many believe regenerative braking is especially a culprit in electric buses, as it can contribute to a “herky-jerky” ride when drivers are still getting used to it.

Simulator-Based Training for ZEB Drivers

Transit operators need to have the opportunity to experience and acclimate to the difference between diesel and EV bus operations. Simulation experts advise getting a training simulator with a motion platform, so operators get fully acquainted with the effect acceleration and braking have on the rider experience.

FAAC Transit Business Manager Jason Francisco says: “A bus handles so much differently from a car, and a ZEB differently from both. Even seasoned bus drivers need an opportunity to acclimate. Motion platforms are so important to smooth operation and a comfortable passenger experience.”

FAAC’s ZEB Operator Dashboard has special features to help bus drivers develop into smooth EV operators, and the simulator itself can be dynamically reconfigured to accurately model the vehicle dynamics and behaviors of a wide range of zero-emissions transit vehicles.

Twenty-five years ago, FAAC developed the first immersive bus and transit driving training simulator. Our sims have kept pace with advances in vehicle technology ever since. The latest transit bus simulators from FAAC combine a high degree of realism with the ability to create and run a variety of scenarios. That includes both those strictly related to safely maneuvering the bus on the road, and scenarios focused on what happens inside the bus. This design flexibility provides a cost effective and safe method for “anytime, anywhere, any weather” driver training.

We are experts at developing analytical models, simulations, and turnkey training systems. Have questions? Ready to get your fleet drivers up to speed with ZEB operation? Contact us today. We look forward to speaking with you.