Google’s self-driving cars use horn as warning


Google’s self-driving software is designed to recognize when honking may help alert other drivers. In the May self-driving car report, the company said it taught its vehicles to distinguish potentially tricky situations from false positives. 

For example, the cars recognize the diference 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.

Software horn

At first, Google only played the horn inside the vehicle to not confuse others on the road. Each time the cars sound the horn, the test drivers took note whether the beep was appropriate. The feedback helped the engineering team to refine the software further.

After the honking algorithms improved, Google also used the horn outside the car, with different sounds depending on the situation. “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”, said Google.

Author: Marieke Van Gompel

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