Google's Horn Honking Algorithm Instills Robo Road Rage In Its Self-Driving Cars
"Each time our cars sound the horn, our test drivers take note whether the beep was appropriate, and this feedback helps our engineering team refine our software further," Google stated in its May 2016 monthly report for self driving cars. "As our honking algorithms improved, we've begun broadcasting our car horn to the world."
Google's even taught its autonomous vehicles to use different kinds of beeps. For example, if another car is reversing towards Google's self-driving car, it might sound two short, quieter pips to politely alert the inattentive driver. But if there's a driving situation that requires more urgency, Google's algorithm will respond in kind with a louder sustained beep.
"Our goal is to teach our cars to honk like a patient, seasoned driver. 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," Google said.
No small thing, horn usage is particularly important in Google's prototype electric vehicles because they're relatively quiet to begin with and can sneak up on motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.