Driving is hard and requires the management of a lot of moving parts. You’ve got to be fully aware of your surroundings (put that cellphone away!). You’ve got to steer the car. You’ve got to gas and brake. You’ve got to flip those turn signals (something too many people seem to forget). Oh! And you’ve got to lay on the horn when some no good doofus doesn’t just freakin’ go when the coast is so obviously clear. Now it looks like the self-driving cars from Google could be picking up on that latest trick.

It’s absolutely true that the company’s experiment with autonomous vehicles has been met with some challenges. The cars still need human intervention every now and then to prevent imminent collisions, particularly in complex urban environments. The self-driving cars have tools for watching traffic conditions and looking out for pedestrians, but they have yet to know how to let you a polite beep-beep when the situation warrants it.

Google has indicated that it has indeed been “training” its cars to horn at appropriate times. What’s more, they’re teaching the cars different kinds of honking patterns. If the car in front of you is slowly backing up into you, your Google car might give out two short “pips” to warn the other driver. If the situation is more dire and more urgent, the car might let out one longer, louder and potentially angrier beeeeeeep.

I imagine Google would also need to adapt the honking algorithm for different markets. I can tell you that the way drivers use the horn in Beijing is so very different from how they use it here in Vancouver.


Via The Verge

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