Google’s self-driving car reacts to cyclists

Will automated cars reduce accidents?

Can computers prevent accidents between motorists and cyclists? The minds behind Google’s ambitious self-driving car project think so.

“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. 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 said in an update about its self-driving car project.

The cars are equipped with an array of sensors that remove blind spots and can detect objects — including cyclists — out to a distance of more than 200 yards in all directions.

Such a vehicle could make drunk and distracted driving a thing of the past. It could also, according to a YouTube video posted by Google, reduce the incidence of accidents between motorist and cyclists. The video demonstrates how the car’s automated software detects the cyclist’s hand signals, predicts their movements and reacts accordingly. The software can also keep an eye on cyclists approaching from behind.

Google's self-driving car project has logged more than 700,000 autonomous miles since its inception. In the coming years Google plans to build 100 driverless prototypes that will be part of a larger pilot program. You can learn more about Google’s driveless car project by visiting its Google+ page.

What do you think? Will self-driving cars make the roads safer for cyclists?

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