One of the technical challenges of self-driving cars is making the automatic pilots behave like humans and in some cases that means honking the horn.
In Rome, honking the horn has a complex etiquette which often leads to wild gestures and swearwords related to the drivers’ testicles or lack thereof, and the fact that the Virgin Mary might have actually been a pig.
Google is apparently discussing how its cars will communicate with human drivers in other cars to make sure they don’t kill themselves. The strategy, which is teach the autonomous cars how to honk at them, will go down like cold Quinto Quarto.
Google says 94 percent of minor crashes are caused by human error, so to combat this, the Menlo-Park, California-based company’s autonomous cars are going to need to whip us fallible beings into shape by disciplining us when we misbehave.
The company says the point of the honking software is to “recognise when honking may help alert other drivers to our car’s presence — for example, when a driver begins swerving into our lane or backing out of a blind driveway.”
Google said that during testing, it taught our vehicles to distinguish between potentially tricky situations and false positives, i.e. the difference between a car facing the wrong way during a three-point turn, and one that’s about to drive down the wrong side of the road.
“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.”
Unlike Rome with its single toot which means something like “the light is actually green now you might wish to move” or a long toot which means “If you pull out now I will kill you and all your family and dance on their rotting bodies” Google has come up with various types of honks.
“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.”
We will not believe that it is effective until the car automatically winds down the window and extends an automatic fist and another driver.