Google’s self-driving cars might yield the road to emergency vehicles, like police cars, automatically. A new U.S. patent shows sensors inside the car recognizing police lights, red and blue, and moving to the side of the road before the emergency vehicle passes.
This may reduce accidents associated with drivers not knowing what to do when an emergency vehicle charges past. There have been plenty of accidents like this, where a driver has hit another car or hit an object on the side of the road, as they try to avoid the emergency vehicle.
Google is currently inputting a large amount of data to teach the sensors the difference between sunlight, traffic lights, and emergency vehicles. For now, police cars are the focus, though it might extend to other vehicles that require drivers to yield the road.
Maybe your should pay attention to the road…itself
Communication between cars and roads could be another way to alert self-driving cars of emergency vehicles. That may reduce the time spent moving back into the lane after the vehicle passes, if all cars are connected and autonomous.
The search giant has been building various programs for its self-driving system to make it friendlier and safer than human drivers. It recently added functionality to recognize multiple cyclists and provide them with adequate space on the road.
Even with these seemingly small updates, Google and other self-driving operators still have a large blank space in the encyclopedia of what to do in certain situations. It’s part of the reason Google, Uber, and others are adamant about testing cars in the real world, as its the perfect way to experience random encounters on the road.