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.

There’s a New 1-Series, And It’s Front-Wheel-Drive

Tell Me About it

So if you haven’t heard, BMW has just released details on the all-new 1-series. Enthusiasts, prepare to be disappointed, because it’s mostly front-wheel drive. Shocked? You shouldn’t be. There has been talk of the next 1-series being FWD for several years, and now it’s finally here. But honestly, front-wheel drive? Who cares.

What’s That You Say?!?

You heard me. Who cares if it’s front-wheel drive. It’s not the first BMW that drives the front wheels. The 2016 X1 debuted on a modified Mini platform that was primarily front-wheel drive with AWD optional. And you know what? The car drove great, still does, in fact. The X1 has topped Car and Driver comparison tests even. The X1 spawned the sportier X2, which might be a confused style statement (it does look rather good in the right spec, but lacks any practicality associated with an SUV), but nonetheless is a surprisingly good car to drive with proper BMW DNA inside.

Furthermore, front-wheel drive can be fun. The Ford Fiesta ST is a fabulous driver’s car and it’s “wrong-way-drive.” The Golf GTi remains a perennial favorite, as well. So given that BMW has made a front-wheel drive SUV decent to steer, I’m sure they are more than capable of infusing some pizzazz into a small hatchback.

And also, the 1-series will be cheaper for it, making it more attainable to those who have not been able to afford to get into a Roundel-badged car. before.

It’s Also AWD

Like the X1 and X2, which are FWD to start with, there will be an all-wheel drive option. So yes, if you really don’t want FWD and a dose of torque steer, there is a car for you. However, unlike the Focus RS, I doubt there will be a ‘drift mode.’ See below though for the real B-road hunter though…

An M135i?

Yes. AWD, and over 300 horsepower. Sounds fun, no? I will miss the outgoing M140i and it’s prior, the M135i. Rear-wheel drive, turbocharged six-cylinders (the new 1-series will be 3 and 4-cylinder engines only), and a standard manual transmission. All that, but in a highly practical, attractive hatchback shape. Okay, it was slightly awkward in some angles, just as the Z3 coupe was, but a seriously cool car to those in the know. Seeing an Estoril Blue example in Scotland once warranted a well-deserved 5 minute walk around to indulge in this crazy curiosity from across the pond. The USA only got the coupe version, the 2-series. Why more Americans don’t like hatchbacks and estate cars is beyond me. They’re cool! And Practical!

It’s Not Even Coming Here

Yes, for us in the United States, currently plans do not appear for the new 2020 1-series to be sold in the United States. Why could that be? BMW has hired enough researchers to determine the demand would be too little, surely. America has never embraced the hatchback quite like Europe. Though, why are Golfs, Focuses, and Fiestas so dang popular?

BMW Just Unveiled Its 2020 X1

Making cars in 2020 is a little bit like Goldilocks when you’re one of the German Big Three. Nothing can be too hot or too cold, so you end up with 32 flavors of car.

That’s actually an understatement if you can believe it, Mercedes and BMW each offer 14 distinct model lines with a bevy of trim levels under each.

Making cars in 2020 is a little bit like Goldilocks when you’re one of the German Big Three. Nothing can be too hot or too cold, so you end up with 32 flavors of car.

That’s actually an understatement if you can believe it, Mercedes and BMW each offer 14 distinct model lines with a bevy of trim levels under each.

The X1 is the inevitable product of this niche obsession, but it’s not the most awkward stepchild of the BMW line. As a compact crossover, the X1 is becoming part of the “new normal.”

It offers car buyers who need a little more provenance than a Toyota C-HR or Subaru Crosstrek an upmarket solution. For 2020, it gets a tidy facelift, new features and alternative power.

Smiles for Miles

In keeping with the design language BMW has used across it’s X brand, the smallish crossover gets a bold and broad new kidney grill design.

The taller grille is not so overwhelming as in the larger X5 and X7 SUVs, and is complimented by a redesigned set of LED headlamps and more defined front fascia with chrome trim and new integrated driving lamps nestled into the front airdam.

The plastic surgery continues out back, where new L-shaped taillights differentiate your new X1 from older models. There are slightly larger exhaust outlets and a revised aero package for the M Sport trim package, which includes side skirts, wheel arch trim and some modest ground effects back on the car’s chin.

For 2020 you’re able to specify your X1 in three new hues, Storm Bay metallic, which is like a fancy grey, Misano Blue metallic and Jucaro Beige. So they haven’t exactly gone bonkers with the MOPAR Plum Crazy Purple paint gun. Wheel selection for the X1 expands to include a new Y-spoke design available in 18 or 19 inch sizes.

On the inside, a larger display helps you keep up with the Jones’s and there’s a now a rich Dakota leather interior that comes matched to dash and door handle trim. Perhaps the most meaningful if not the most exciting change is an updated version of the time-tested ZF eight speed automatic transmission that now ships with the X1.

X1 Goes Earthy

BMW has been no slowpoke when it comes to getting on board the transition to hybrid and electric cars. The Bavarian company plans to offer electric or hybrid options across the model range in the near future and for the X1, that future is 2020.

The X1 xDrive 25Le will hit the world market next year, adding a hybrid to the diesel option that has been available since the crossover’s introduction in international markets.

BMW claims that with electrification, the X1’s hybrid system achieves 141.2 mpg, which is more than you could ever hope to achieve with an oil-burner or traditional gasoline engine, even with the latest and greatest technologies.

An all-electric mode allows the X1 about 30 miles of range on battery alone, which might be helpful for jaunts around town and will be required to make the care salable in parts of Europe where such a mode is required.

It’s not clear yet whether we’ll see the hybrid 25Le come to the US, however with the X1 confidently earning the top selling spot in BMW’s SUV (SAV, XUV, what is this thing?) line, it would be no surprise to see some variant of this powertrain arrive on US shores within a few years time.