Google’s self-driving cars can now beep at other road users

Google's self-driving cars can now beep at other road users

In a bid to prevent another crash involving one of its self-driving cars, Google has been working on fitting them with their own horns – and making sure they understand when to use them.

Unlike the majority of human drivers, the self-driving cars won’t use the horn when it gets impatient with another motorist, but to alert them of its presence.

They could even be used when approaching a pedestrian who hasn’t noticed them – 34 of its self-driving cars run entirely on electricity, after all.

The firm’s May autonomous car report explains: “Our self-driving cars aim to be polite, considerate, and only honk when it makes driving safer for everyone.

“During testing, we taught our vehicles to distinguish between potentially tricky situations and false positives, i.e. the difference between a car facing the wrong way during a three-point turn, and one that’s about to drive down the wrong side of the road.”

It’s understood that engineers have been teaching the cars two types of beeps – either two short blasts as a friendly warning, or a longer one in more urgent situations.

The report added: “Our goal is to teach our cars to honk like a patient, seasoned driver. As we become more experienced honkers, we hope our cars will also be able to predict how other drivers respond to a beep in different situations”

Now that’ll be interesting to see. How does a driver act when experiencing road rage with a driverless car?

Web editor at Drives a 1983 Austin Metro. Tweet me @MR_AndrewBrady.

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