Every month, Google puts out a report for its self-driving car project. There’s not that much new this month besides the usual updated running totals (miles driven, number of vehicles on the road, etc.), but the Mountain View company did take some time to detail something that many may not have thought about yet: how it’s teaching the cars to honk…
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The report says that Google “only played the horn inside the vehicle” at first so that the cars wouldn’t confuse others on the roads if they honked inappropriately. The company’s test drivers took notes every time the car beeped so that the engineers could refine the software, but more recently, the cars have begun honking for real:
As our honking algorithms improved, we’ve begun broadcasting our car horn to the world. We’ve even taught our vehicles to use different types of honks depending on the situation. If another vehicle is slowly reversing towards us, we might sound two short, quieter pips as a friendly heads up to let the driver know we’re behind. However, if there’s a situation that requires more urgency, we’ll use one loud sustained honk.
Today’s report notes that the cars have driven 1,644,544 miles in autonomous mode, 1,120,512 miles in manual mode, and that there are currently 24 Lexus vehicles and 34 of the “cute” prototypes on the road racking up these miles. That’s the same number of prototypes, and one more Lexus vehicle — making a new high — compared to last month.
The report also details a very minor accident that happened earlier in the month.
May 4, 2016: A Google self-driving prototype vehicle in manual mode and proceeding west on Latham St. in Mountain View struck a median while travelling at 9 mph near the intersection of Chiquita Ave. There were no other vehicles involved and no traffic in the vicinity. There were no injuries. The Google AV sustained minor damage.