The autonomous car revolution is here. And yet many are still confused as to how the technology will help us make roads safer.
According to a series of news reports, Google is putting a great deal of emphasis on cyclist safety. News organizations learned about this fact when looking into the reports of crashes tied to Google self-driving cars, which the Silicon Valley giant is required to produce monthly.
While the accidents detailed in the report are minor, many in the media have been claiming that a recent crash involving a Tesla vehicle fitted with the Autopilot System may end up shaking up the self-driving world. Whether that is true or not, only time will tell.
To Google, the self-driving technology could help bring the number of auto vs. bicycle crashes down considerably, simply by “teaching” its system to remain cautious while around bicyclists. According to the company, its technology is designed to remember that cyclists are fast and their actions are hard to anticipate. Therefore, whenever he technology identifies that it’s sharing the road with cyclists, the system drives conservatively around them.
So far, Google claims to have developed the technology to spot and understand hand signals that give drivers a visual idea of what the cyclist is planning to do. So when a cyclist ahead of a Google car makes signals that suggest lane changes and turns, the self-driving car technology is programmed to understand what that means.
If Google is successful in producing a self-driving car technology, many other companies working on developing the self-driving car may benefit, helping drivers in the future to keep some of the most vulnerable road regulars out of harm’s ways.
The incident report released by Google that sparked this discovery shows that, this past month, Google self-driving cars have been involved in two accidents. One of the collisions involved a vehicle driven by a human driver that unsafely changed lanes too close to the Google car, while the second incident was a low-speed rear-end crash. T vehicle following behind the Google vehicle rolled forward at about 3 mph, hitting the back of the self-driving vehicle waiting in a turn lane.
No injuries or damage were tied to the crashes.
For more on these incidents and how Google hopes to make roads safer for cyclists, click here.