Ford is Trying to Stop Your Kids From Puking

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ford is trying to stop your kids from puking

Few things are more annoying than trying to extract vomit from cloth upholstery while pulled over at a gas station. Depending on the meal that preceded the involuntary stomach evacuation, it could be a tough slog.

Ford Motor Company, always one for innovation, is actively seeking out ways to reduce instances of lost lunches and tossed cookies. No, it hasn’t installed a “turkey dinner” mode on its Fusion Sport, but it has put its German research and development team on the case.

Automakers, in their never-ending quest for greater passenger comfort and handling prowess, have apparently neglected to lend appropriate thought towards the car sickness that plagues a good number of road trip passengers. As children, we were warned against reading while sitting in the back of dad’s Cutlass (I never saw it happen), but whose kids are reading in 2017? I’d hazard a guess of “none.”

Today’s children are usually on their tablet, phone, or watching a Pixar flick on a seatback-mounted screen — even while going to the grocery store.

With the help of motion sickness experts, Ford has conducted tests showing that “passengers who stared at screens for the duration of a short journey fell ill after an average of just 10 minutes.” All of the test subjects were adults, the automaker claims. (General Motors performed similar research in 2014 for the previous-generation Buick Enclave.)

As there’s only so much that can be done to offset the upsetting vehicle motions that come from potholes, twisty roads and expansion joints, Ford has turned its attention to the screen itself. Situational awareness — something that’s no stranger to those who were forced to use their imaginations on pre-tablet road trips — plays a big role. Upchucking occurs when the body and brain interpret different signals. Without warning, the interior of your Explorer can instantly resemble a Carnival cruise liner hit by a norovirus outbreak.

“In the initial testing it was found that when screens were mounted higher, and the road ahead could be seen on either side, volunteers were less likely to feel sick,” the automaker said in a statement. “Further experiments will explore alternative ways that journeys could be displayed in the cabin so that unseeing passengers can be warned of events such as twisty roads or hump backed bridges.”

Think of it as a DEW Line, only for nausea instead of Soviet bombers.

There’s no mention of Gravol or ginger ale dispensers appearing in the foreseeable future, but the findings from Ford’s research could influence vehicle design and content in the coming years. Additionally, the automaker listed ways drivers can lessen the chances of car sickness right now. Part of that includes not driving like the bus driver training instructor of Bob Newhart fame.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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  • Cdotson Cdotson on Apr 25, 2017

    I think a lot of car sickness can be mitigated with throttle calibration. When I was a kid I got carsick a lot (I still can't ride coasters or thrill rides). Almost invariably when I was a rear seat passenger in my grandfather's car I would get sick. He learned to drive in downtown DC after WWII when he was nearly 30. His accelerator was effectively digital as he was accustomed to accelerating between city block intersections in heavy underpowered cars. By the time I came around the first car of his I can remember was a 1980 Grand Prix that was sufficiently heavy and underpowered it wasn't too bad, but the rear visibility was nonexistent to my 4-5 year old self. At least the white vinyl cleaned easily; can't say the same for the blue cut-pile carpeting. When he bought a 1984 Honda Accord and drove the Poncho to the junkyard it got really bad. Each successive Accord had better power to weight ratios. He aged. The combination got really bad for me and I know I vomited in his 84, 88, 91, and I think his 94 Accords. His 97 was the first with leather and I believe the first I didn't vomit in (I was 18 and off to college when they bought it). Interior smell may have played a factor too as Hondas of that era seemed to have a particular interior offgas smell to them, or at least his did. Even more recently I replaced the brake pads on our 2006 Odyssey and the smell during the bedding procedure combined with the high braking deceleration made me sick while driving, but I was able to stop it short of losing my lunch.

  • Don1967 Don1967 on Apr 25, 2017

    My dad had a surefire cure for car sickness: Put the kids in the back seat of the '71 Olds with some comic books and a two-pound box of juicy ripe cherries, and hit the road. It was all over within minutes.

  • PeterPuck For years, Ford has simply reworked existing designs originating from Europe and Japanese manufacturers, not being capable of designing a decent car in the USA.What’s the last clean sheet design from the USA? The 1986 Taurus?And they still can’t manage to get things right.why is this? Are they putting all of the competent engineers and designers on the F150? Is woke diversification affecting them, as some rumours suggest? Are they rewarding incompetence?
  • Brandon What is a "city crossover"?
  • Tassos What was the last time we had any good news from Ford? (or GM for that matter?)The last one was probably when Alan Mulally was CEO. Were you even born back then?Fields was a total disaster, then they go hire this clown from Toyota's PR department, the current Ford CEO, Fart-ley or something.He claims to be an auto enthusiast too (unlike Mary Barra who is even worse, but of course always forgiven, as she is the proud owner of a set of female genitals.
  • Tassos I know some would want to own a collectible Mustang. (sure as hell not me. This crappy 'secretary's car' (that was exactly its intended buying demo) was as sophisticated (transl. : CRUDE) as the FLintstone's mobile. Solid Real Axle? Are you effing kidding me?There is a huge number of these around, so they are neither expensive nor valuable.WHen it came out, it was $2,000 or so new. A colleague bought a recent one with the stupid Ecoboost which also promised good fuel economy. He drives a hard bargain and spends time shopping and I remember he paid $37k ( the fool only bought domestic crap, but luckily he is good with his hands and can fix lots of stuff on them).He told me that the alleged fuel economy is obtained only if you drive it like a VERY old lady. WHich defeats the purpose, of course, you might as well buy a used Toyota Yaris (not even a Corolla).
  • MRF 95 T-Bird Back when the Corolla consisted of a wide range of body styles. This wagon, both four door and two door sedans, a shooting brake like three door hatch as well as a sports coupe hatchback. All of which were on the popular cars on the road where I resided.