Google said it taught its autonomous cars how to be more aware of cyclists on roads and to give them more extra room.
Google is relentlessly working on improving its self-driving tech and is offering monthly reports on the progress. In the latest update, the company said it wanted to give cyclists more buffer room when Google’s self-driving test cars are passing by. When sensors detect a parallel-parked car with an open door near a cyclist, the car was programmed to slow down or nudge over to give the rider enough space to move towards the center of the lane and not to crash into the door.
Google also refined its software to recognize some common riding behaviors to better predict cyclists’ course, as its sensors can detect their hand signals as an indication of an intention to make a turn or shift over. Furthermore, the tech is designed to remember previous signals from a rider to anticipate their next move. Through machine learning, Google trained the software to recognize many different types of bicycles by remembering and analyzing thousands of variations.
Such an update and awareness are most welcomed, as cycling has become increasingly more popular and accidents have drastically increased. According to the National Highway Traffics Safety Administration, more than 50,000 cyclists were injured and over 720 were killed on American roads in 2014 alone.