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Google Car: I Felt Safer Dealing with It than a Human Driver, Says Cyclist

Published on 25 December 15

The autonomous cars created by Google know how to behave with cyclists, although these become assertive when they have to be Google.

One of the cyclists told us that after a 2-minute confrontation with self-driving Google car, he’d better move on the same road with robots or software than people drivers. Autonomous car specialists like that Google manufacturers provided their cars with the sense of caution but at the same time made them assertive when it’s necessary.

A professional cyclist Gregg Tatum, who makes 6,000 miles every year, met a Google’s self-driving car at one of 4-way stop intersection, where the first to reach the junction has the right of way. The Google’s car stopped at the junction after Tatum but was unsure when he moved slowly to keep its balance.

While the car was inching forward, I had to rock the handlebars to keep my position, Tatum wrote on one of the forums. Suddenly the motion was analyzed by one of the sensors and the car immediately stopped. I held the bike in balance and waited for a couple of seconds after which the cycle repeated itself. The car moved a little bit forward, and I shifted my weight repositioning the bars. After that the car stopped. We performed the same action three times, and the Lexus was not even halfway through the intersection.

Tatum said that this funny dance took about two minutes before the Google’s car finally set off, being sure that he wasn’t going to cycle across the intersection in front of it. Two Google employees who were sitting in Lexus monitored the incident. The car was full of sensors and cameras for better navigation of the streets without any driver’s intervention.

Feel safer dealing with a robot, rather than a human

Despite the fact that the car was unsure of what to do, the cyclist told us at that he liked the road manners it had. He said that it was an awesome experience, and he felt even safer dealing with a robot-vehicle than one operated by a human.

Factually the autonomous car monitors the cyclist’s body movements to analyze what it’s about to do. Special sensors measure the distance between the cyclist’s head and hands to analyze whether these are turning somewhere or stopping. The car also looks at the angle at which the cyclist's elbow is bending as well as the shape and the size of the hands and head. By doing it, the car can predict what the cyclist is going to do next, even if he changes his mind.

Brad Templeton, an autonomous car specialist who used to work with Google’s self-driving cars, said that at the majority of four-way stops if you don’t assert your right-of-way, other will do it for you. That means you have to change the 'I will never advance if somebody else is there' caution to add a little assertiveness. Otherwise, you’ll have to stay too long at a stop waiting for a clear slot.
This blog is listed under Development & Implementations Community

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