Alphabet Inc , is working hard to ensure that it delivers the total safety package when it unveils its self-driving car. The firm believes that the only real path to building fully autonomous cars is to start from scratch. In contrast, other firms such as Tesla Motors Inc think that upgrading driver-assist systems today would cause them to evolve into full autonomous systems in the future. Alphabet’s plan seems to be the working well so far. Its fleet of robocars have logged more than 1.2M miles on the road.
Google is always making headlines with its self-driving car project as its robocars reach key milestones. Now, the firm is in the news after it was awarded a patent that would allow its self-driving cars talk to motorists and other road users. Tech Times reports that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has awarded Google a patent for a “pedestrian notifications”. The use of the patent allow Google’s robocar communicate with other road users.
Google cars should start talking soon
Details of the patent award reveals that Alphabet Inc robocars would be able to sense when a person is standing in front or close to the vehicle, the car would then decide on the next course of action. The car would be able to alert the pedestrian if it’s “safe to cross” or if it is “coming through”. The patent info also shows that Google might want to include a screen on the door of the car – the screen would display traffic signs that will let pedestrians know what the car is doing.
The patent says, “the vehicle may include sensors which detect an object such as a pedestrian attempting or about to cross the roadway in front of the vehicle… The vehicle’s computer may then determine the correct way to respond to the pedestrian… The vehicle may then provide a notification to the pedestrian of what the vehicle is going to do or is currently doing.”
This patent builds on an earlier feature that teaches the robocars how to act around kids – who are mostly restless and unpredictable. Earlier this month, Fortune reported that Google was teaching its self-driving cars how to recognize children even when they are wearing Halloween costumes.
Are Google’s cars too safe?
Alphabet Inc has an uphill task ahead as it wants to replace human drivers with computers. Humans have been driving cars for more than a century and a change to having computers behind the wheels won’t happen overnight. The NHTSA is reluctant to write the rules of the road for self-driving cars because it wants to avoid errors in oversight. For instance, an ethical question asks if self-driving cars should be taught to protect their passengers at the expense of other road users.
Google is trying hard to ensure that its robocars have the best safety systems to avoid a public outcry and backlash against self-driving cars. In the last couple of years, its cars have logged more than 1.2 million autonomous miles, but they’ve only been involved in 26 minor accidents. The Robocars were not at fault in any of those accidents. Google should be able to trigger the change its desires in it auto space if it continues to roll out comprehensive safety features in its robocars.