Google finally teaches its self-driving cars to honk: Here’s how
Google has been adding improvements to its self-driving car, and how. The latest update in its self-driving car report adds that the software is now thought how and when to honk to help other human drivers on the road without putting out a wayward beep.
To begin with, the software is designed to see a 360 degrees view. During the testing, the vehicles were taught to distinguish between tricky situations and false positives, which means ‘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.”
Initially, the horn was played inside the vehicle to avoid a wayward beep and confuse other drivers, and test drivers would take a note of the appropriate beeps. This feedback was later used by the engineering team to improve the software.
Once the honking algorithms improved, Google decided to release the feature. Interestingly, the cars are even taught different types of honks depending upon situations. For instance, if another vehicle is slowly reversing towards the car, then the car will emit two short, quieter pips. In situations of urgency, one loud sustained honk.
“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 situation,” Google states in the report.
Google also ensures that people living in the test cities can distinguish between the self-driven car designs, and also ensures a distinct sound. The prototype is an electric vehicle and the engine does not rev like combustion engines. So, there’s a sound alert for pedestrians and cyclists crossing the street or changing lanes.
“We’ve designed the hum of our vehicle to be familiar so that pedestrians and cyclists around know what to expect. Our prototype mimics the sound characteristics of traditional cars, such as increasing the pitch when it accelerates, and decreasing the pitch when it decelerates,” the report further adds.
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