Cyclists face a variety of dangers sharing the road with cars, but Google wants to make sure its autonomous car is mindful of bikes on the road, unlike some human drivers.
In its monthly report, Google describes how it has been programming its self-driving system to recognize cyclists and be nice to them.
The autonomous car provides an ample amount of room and won’t overtake if cyclists take the center of the lane. It notices a variety of cyclist signals, such as an indication that the cyclist wants to move into another lane. Google has programmed its software to store the hand signals, which means if the cyclist moves to a new lane two minutes later the car will remember the signal.
Google gave two examples of the car being extra cautious around cyclists, the first is if it notices a parallel parked car with the door open, it will slow down to let the cyclist pass without fear of a collision. The second is a video (below), shown at SXSW Interactive 2016, where the Google can instantly recognizes an oncoming cyclist and immediately slaps on the brakes.
Bikes — and cyclists — come in all shapes and sizes
Bikes come in all shapes and sizes, as Google says in the report, so it has also started using machine learning to recognize different bikes. We assume that in the future, it may provide more or less of the road to a cyclist, depending on the bike speed and size.
Providing assurances for cyclists shows the depth of Google’s system, which is still a few years from commercialization. With the first fatal autonomous crash still at the front of the tech world’s mind, we are sure Google is looking even harder for any blindsights before it starts to partner with automakers.
Google reported two minor incidents in June, both in Austin, Texas. Both of the collisions happened while in autonomous mode, but neither resulted in injuries for either party.