Google has taken another step forward in the race to master autonomous vehicle technology by teaching a prototype to navigate busy urban streets.
A modified Lexus SUV is now able to detect and avoid parked cars, pedestrians, and cyclists. The ability to recognise the hand signals used by cyclists changing direction is particularly impressive and integral to any widespread implementation of the technology on public roads.
“We’ve improved our software so it can detect hundreds of distinct objects simultaneously — pedestrians, buses, a stop sign held up by a crossing guard, or a cyclist making gestures that indicate a possible turn,” Google says.
A self-driving vehicle can pay attention to all of these things in a way that a human physically can’t — and it never gets tired or distracted.”
Google’s self-driving vehicles have now logged over 700,000 miles, tackling obstacles that would have ‘stumped’ the company two years ago.
A number of companies are currently working on proprietary self-driving vehicle technology with the aim of introducing it to road cars before rivals. Swedish automaker Volvo has recently commenced pilot tests in Gothenburg and Nissan has already ‘driven’ a prototype LEAF on a Japanese expressway. Swiss automotive think tank Rinspeed recently unveiled an autonomous version of the Tesla Model S at the Geneva Motor Show.
This footage published on Google’s blog shows the simplified view the car’s computer takes of what humans would perceive as a relatively hectic situation.
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