Google's Self-Driving Cars Can Now Honk

Posted on June 13, 2016

Car horn icon in Google's self-driving software

Google has announced that its self-driving car now honk. Some drivers may honk at you just because they think you are taking too long at a light or if they are a grumpy driver it could be just because they are upset. Google says its self-driving cars will "only honk when it makes driving safer for everyone."

The image above shows a horn icon that appears above the car in Google's self-driving software when the vehicle wants to honk. Google says in the announcement that its software is deigned to recognize when honking could help alert other drivers to its presence.

Google writes, "At first, we only played the horn inside the vehicle so we wouldn’t confuse others on the road with a wayward beep. 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 says it has now started using the horn in the real world: "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."

Image: Google
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