Google’s Latest Self-Driving Reports Dishes on How the Cars Share the Road with Cyclists

Posted by at 9:53 am on July 5, 2016


In Google’s self-driving car report for June 2016, the Mountain View company has detailed — alongside the latest stats/metrics and a couple of accident reports, of course — how its autonomous vehicles share the road with cyclists…


Cyclists are obviously more difficult than vehicles for the self-driving cars to recognize and learn about, but it looks like Google is putting a focus on making sure that bikers stay safe around its self-driving vehicles. The cars are able to recognize cyclists’ hand signals, and they can also detect many different kinds of bikes — even unicycles — to make sure that riders are safe no matter what they ride.

Through observing cyclists on the roads and private test track, we’ve taught our software to recognize some common riding behaviors, helping our car better predict a cyclist’s course. Our sensors can detect a cyclist’s’ hand signals as an indication of an intention to make a turn or shift over. Cyclists often make hand signals far in advance of a turn, and our software is designed to remember previous signals from a rider so it can better anticipate a rider’s turn down the road.

As of June 2016, there are 58 self-driving Google cars on public roads across 4 states, 24 of which are the larger Lexus SUVs while 34 are the newer prototype vehicles. The cars have traveled 1,725,911 miles in autonomous mode, averaging 15,000-17,000 per week. This month, the cars drove a total of 81,757 miles, which is a new high since Google began publishing these reports.

The report also details two minor accidents, both of which occurred in Austin, Texas (remarkably close to each other, too). The first of which happened earlier in the month and involved a quick sideswipe, and the latter was a fender bender at 3 mph. Both caused minor damage to Google’s cars, and thankfully, neither accident involved any injuries.

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