General Motors has filed a patent application for anti-motion sickness technology for autonomous vehicles.

In the application, filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), GM notes that even if autonomous vehicles proliferate, people may still be hesitant to ride in them. A self-driving car that causes motion sickness probably won't make the best first impression.

Motion sickness is more likely to occur when a passenger is focused on something else, such as reading a book or scrolling through a phone, GM noted. Those are the kinds of things many people are expected to do in vehicles when they no longer have to drive themselves. So eliminating motion sickness is especially important in autonomous cars.

Cruise Origin driverless vehicle

Cruise Origin driverless vehicle

To that end, GM outlined a system of lights and images that visually represent the forces of acceleration, braking, and cornering. That could take the form of an image of the vehicle on the screen, or changing color or light patterns. Alternatively, a sound system or haptic feedback could be used to provide a similar effect, GM said.

This not only helps align a person's sensory perception with the forces acting on their body—addressing the cause of motion sickness—but also build trust by providing more information about what the vehicle is doing, according to GM.

It's unclear if this technology will make it to production, but GM is pushing ahead with development of autonomous vehicles. GM-controlled Cruise is close to offering driverless taxi rides to the public in San Francisco. Cruise currently uses modified Chevrolet Bolt EV hatchbacks, but will eventually switch to a purpose-built vehicle called the Origin. First shown in 2020, it will be manufactured by GM at the automaker's Factory Zero plant in Detroit.