Google's Self-Driving Cars Are Learning How to Honk

Engineers are teaching the autonomous vehicles
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 2, 2016 6:13 PM CDT
Google's Self-Driving Cars Are Learning How to Honk
In this May 13, 2015, file photo, Google's self-driving Lexus drives along a street during a demonstration at Google campus in Mountain View, Calif.   (AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File)

If you thought self-driving cars might cause honking to become a thing of the past, think again. Google engineers are teaching Google's autonomous vehicles how to honk, a company report from May reveals, per USA Today. "Our self-driving cars aim to be polite, considerate, and only honk when it makes driving safer for everyone," says the report. "During testing, we taught our vehicles to distinguish between potentially tricky situations and false positives, i.e. 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."

How do you teach a self-driving car? Engineers rode along, and the car would issue two short honks to give a non-urgent heads-up, or a long honk to give a more urgent warning, as the engineers noted whether the car honked appropriately. As for how other drivers might respond? Well, "our goal is to teach our cars to honk like a patient, seasoned driver," the report says. "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." (Read more self-driving car stories.)

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