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Motion Sickness and Concerns for Urban Air Mobility Vehicles: A Literature Review  (2020)
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Motion sickness is a general term for a constellation of signs and symptoms, generally due to exposure to abrupt, periodic, or unnatural accelerations, especially when traveling in a vehicle. Motion sickness results from a mismatch of the visual and nonvisual (vestibular and kinesthetic) information, the observed scene and the motion felt or lack of it. Motion sickness onset is associated with a pattern of physiological changes in heart rate, peripheral blood flow, respiration, and skin conductance and the pattern is repeatable for a particular subject but variable between subjects. Demographic factors such as gender and age that affect motion sickness are well known with children, women, and older adults more likely to be susceptible.

Often motion sickness is assessed and quantified using variations of the motion sickness susceptibility questionnaires including the Pensacola Diagnostic Rating Scale and the Simulator Sickness Questionnaire. Even though symptoms are easily identified by such questionnaires, they commonly are subjective. Tools such as these questionnaires for screening individuals susceptible to motion sickness are useful, however, they are only mildly predictive. Moreover, models for predicting motion sickness, which have largely been developed for sea sickness, do not consider task characteristics.

Predictions of motion sickness rates and prevalence for Urban Air Mobility (UAM) vehicles are not possible at present because data from actual flight or full-fidelity simulation are simply not yet available. Extrapolation from other modes of transportation (i.e., automobiles, buses, trains, boats, other types of aircraft) is difficult because of differences in the motion stimulus experienced, trip duration, and other factors. How UAM vehicles will change the social dynamics of passenger interaction and vehicle interior design changes (e.g., seat orientations) is unknown. Should motion sickness prove to be an issue, vehicle design modifications such as having passengers face forward, providing additional seat recline, giving each person their own climate control for airflow, perhaps ensuring the horizon is visible to all passengers (reducing visual occlusion by the headrest) and visually stabilizing displays on carry-on devices (smart phones, tablets, etc.) may benefit passengers. Several commercial companies provide wearable devices for physiological monitoring that have been validated and are suitable for use with passengers in UAM vehicles or high-fidelity simulators. Potential countermeasures for motion sickness include user-worn devices, anti-motion sickness medications, and non-pharmacological approaches such as biofeedback and Autogenic Feedback Training Exercise. Both simulator and in-vehicle UAM research is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of any potential countermeasure.
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air, mobility, motion, sickness, UAM, urban
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Adobe PDF Icon  NASA_TM_20205009977.pdf (Download Acrobat Reader Click to download Adobe Acrabat Reader)
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Curator: Phil So
NASA Official: Jessica Nowinski
Last Updated: August 15, 2019