The self-driving Google cars can not only ease the life of the driver by using its automatic systems, but also they know how to communicate with other cars on the road. Thus, the developers have taught the cars how and when to blow the horn.
The team tested different scenarios in which a honk would be useful, such as driving back out of a blind driveway or a car coming from the opposite side on a one-way road. At first, the honk was just a sound played on the inside of the car so not to confuse other drivers in the traffic.
The AI software was designed to identify the situations when a honk may help to alert other drivers of the presence of the car. The program is also equipped with different types of honks. For example, two short pips to a mild reminder or a sustained sound for urgent alerts.
The aim of this new intelligent honk is to create the image of a more polite car, having a more patient driver.
Another idea to explore is how other drivers react to a horn. Once the driving behavior on the road is predicted, Google cars can develop other sets of reactions and scenarios that will help the driver take correct decisions in traffic.
On a similar note, Google worked on a new sound for their vehicles. As the car is all-electric, the sounds it makes are not as poignant as the ones of a regular car.
Pedestrians and cyclists will have troubles hearing it coming and might get caught by surprise and react unpredictably, or completely ignore it. The classical driving sound is also a type of alert that helps people with visual impairments to orientate in the street.
In order to find the perfect sound for their cars, the team tested a large variety of sounds, starting from ambient art sculptures to Orca sounds. They haven’t decided yet on how the car should sound, apart from the fact that the sound will increase and decrease the pitch with acceleration.
Up until now, Google has implemented the AI software in 24 Lexus SUVs and 34 prototype vehicles. The cars are tested in Kirkland, Mountain View, Phoenix and Austin.
The company hopes to implement new technologies that will eventually make driving safer and reduce traffic stress.
Image Source: Flickr