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Google's Self-Driving Cars Now Know When To Honk (engadget.com) 156

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget: Google's self-driving cars are not only getting smarter by the day, but they're also getting a little bit more polite. According to the project's latest monthly report, the self-driving car team has recently been teaching the car's AI when and how to honk the horn and give the human drivers on the road a helpful heads up. In order to train its honking algorithm, the team tested a variety of honk-worthy situations, like a car backing out of a blind driveway or a car headed the wrong way down a one-way street. At first, the car would play a little honk sound inside the vehicle so engineers could record whether there was a legitimate need for a honk and provide teaching feedback. Once they felt the AI was ready, they let it blare its horn to the world. The report goes on to say Google has "sound-designed the self-driving car's 'hum' so pedestrians and cyclists around the car can hear it coming." The sound increases when the car speeds up, and decreases when the car slows down.
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Google's Self-Driving Cars Now Know When To Honk

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Will the cars honk at texting Meanderthal idioticus fools who walk out into traffic?

    Or do us all the favor, not honk, and squash them?

  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Friday June 03, 2016 @08:05AM (#52241113) Journal

    Only honking is not enough

    Since Google's self driving car are running on computers and computer can differentiate different dangerous situations Google should make their cars 'talk' --- like "Watch out, I'm on your left lane!" or 'get the fuck out of my lane, asshole!', or something like that!

    • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Friday June 03, 2016 @08:10AM (#52241151) Homepage

      Hey, I'm drivin' here!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 03, 2016 @08:19AM (#52241209)

      The car disproportionately honks at women too.

      This is clearly sexist manhonking as a result of the deeply engrained brogramming culture at Google.

      • The car disproportionately honks at women too.

        Nah, that's just a result of its machine learning algorithm.

        (ducks...)

    • Plus there should be a robot arm attached, with the ability to raise one* finger...

      * 2 for those in the UK

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      'get the fuck out of my lane, asshole!'

      They're going to have models specifically for sale in Massachusetts?

    • OK, so it can honk. But does it know what to do when honked at? Can it roll down the window, stick out a mechanical arm, and raise its finger?

    • by darniil ( 793468 )

      "Watch out, I'm on your left lane!" or 'get the fuck out of my lane, asshole!', or something like that!

      Actually, that's similar to something I was thinking about one day.

      Like, in some not-too-distant future (Next Sunday, AD?), self-driving cars actually talk to each other. We get in, we program our destinations, they calculate the route to take, and off we go. But when on the roads, commute distances differ. Some people might get on the interstate and get off at the next exit. Others might be on the int

    • I agree. I always wished I had an LCD board in my back window with preprogrammed responses.

      "Sorry, I was a total asshole and didn't see you."
      "Thanks!"

      On a more serious note I still think the Google Cars need a bright red flashing light in the back window for when it detects an oncoming car when it's stopped. Lay on the horn and flash a bright red light at them. Then if they're texting and are about to rear-end you (most google car accidents it seems) they will be alerted and hopefully stop their vehicle.

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Friday June 03, 2016 @08:05AM (#52241115)
    if (location - evilcorpHQ < 100) {
        horn.honk(5000);
    }

    if (location - tinderuser.closest < 50) {
        horn.honk(50);
        horn.honk(50);
    }
    • by Anonymous Coward
      So the input value of horn.honk, is that the loudness of the honk? The number of honks? The duration of a single honk? Are two horn.honk(50) like you have, the same as one horn.honk(100)? Inquiring minds like mine want to know!
  • by schwit1 ( 797399 ) on Friday June 03, 2016 @08:07AM (#52241125)
    Because his priority is texting instead of driving.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Aww, did precious snowflake have to wait 3s on the way to work this morning? Here, have a Snickers bar.

      • Right, because that's the problem with texting while driving.

      • Not just him. All the cars behind him as well. And, if the intersection is so busy that during rush hour all cars have to wait for several green lights, all subsequent cars for the rest of the entire rush hour.

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      In Washington State, it has gotten worse since pot was legalized. Lots of people just sitting at the intersection in a stupor.

      • Haven't really noticed - but then again western Washington, Seattle in particular, has always had drivers who will wait until they're 150% sure the light is green. You can tell if someone is out of state because they're the only ones honking their horn.
        • by PPH ( 736903 )

          I'm from WA State and I honk.

          wait until they're 150% sure the light is green.

          I'm not so sure about this. I've been behind a few people lately where, when the light turns green, their foot comes off the brake (brake light go out). But they just sit there for another 5 or even 10 seconds. It's a stoner thing, where the train of thought gets broken at some point in the process.

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Friday June 03, 2016 @12:17PM (#52243591)

      Reminds me of my favourite bad driving trifecta. Was going to a burger place, going down the street and one ahole one cuts me off, 1min later another ahole is driving behind me with his high beams on blinding me, 1min after that we're all standing at a turning light behind a car waiting to turn. And waiting, and waiting... The light never went green because ahole three was too busy txting to realise she's not actually the front car anymore and no one is standing on the turning sensor so our light never went green.

      I got out, tapped on her window and let lose:
      YOU Get the fuck off your phone and drive up to the sensor!
      YOU Watch where the fuck your going before you get someone killed!
      and YOU your fucking highbeams are still on, OFF NOW!!!!!

      It was the second most satisfying experience of my driving career.

      • lol what was the most satisfying?
        • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Saturday June 04, 2016 @04:32AM (#52247567)

          Driving home in peak hour one day there's a car a few meters in front of me who clearly thinks he can travel faster than the backed up traffic. Ever chance he gets he jumps into the other lane which he thinks is moving faster only for that to be the slightly slower lane. 10min later he ends up behind me. Traffic breaks a little and we start moving a bit shy of the speed limit, truck in my lane and a break in the other, so I change lanes right as that idiot does. He honks and tailgates me as if that was his god given lane.

          At some point we end up in the right lane, idiot still behind me, and we're behind a another truck I can't see around. There's a suddenly very large break in the left lane with no cars at all which I merge into (because I need to go left up ahead), but half way into the lane I change my mind (for a good reason) and jump back into the right lane.

          Idiot behind my who already accelerated before I even started to merge honks, swerves into the left lane, accelerates, gives me the finger, and then rear-ends the parked bus (the good reason why I didn't want to go in that lane).

          Some people just need to chill.

          • That is excellent.
            I had a similar (but lesser) experience where someone who was mad at me rushed to cut me off......right into a red light, getting captured by a camera.
  • I'll wait to reserve my autonomous car until it can give someone the finger, though ...
  • So it hums and it honks? Maybe they should wash it once in a while.

  • I guess they will honk each time they read a bumper-sticker with 'Honk if you love Jesus' or 'Honk if you're horny'.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Here in Portland Oregon, you could drive for years without ever hearing someone honk their horn.

    • Here in Portland Oregon, you could drive for years without ever hearing someone honk their horn.

      and here in Chicago, it's pretty rude to NOT honk at least 1.2s before the light goes green.

    • >> Here in Portland Oregon

      That's interesting. Maybe someone should make a show about your city.
    • I don't get it. How does one honk a horn and why would one want to?
      • Ok super curious now. I'm guessing "honk" means something else in your dialect? I tried the usual "British English to American English" searches and got nothing.
        In American English, "Honk" is an onomatopoeia of the sound car horns make (comparing them to the sound geese make). "To honk" is the verbing of that word. One honks a horn by pushing the center of the steering wheel causing the car horn to make the honk sound. This is done to alert other drivers, get their attention, or express road rage.

    • by tsqr ( 808554 )

      Here in Portland Oregon, you could drive for years without ever hearing someone honk their horn.

      There in Portland, Oregon, people drive so slowly that it's faster to walk.

  • Stop the noise pollution the 3 adults that ride bikes on the road around me can deal. The kids are smart enough to use the sidewalks.

    • FWIW, in most locales cyclists are entitled to the full lane.

      • by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Friday June 03, 2016 @08:42AM (#52241375) Homepage

        And in most of these locations, bicycling on the sidewalk is also illegal.

        • Both of which are ridiculous.

          • Have you met most bicyclists? A few good actors does not make it worth making the sidewalks dangerous. Especially one-pedestrian-wide curving suburban sidewalks with lots of plant life around them.

            • You must live in very different burbs, our sidewalk are rather wide 4 people abreast easily 8+ on the main road (all of a mile or so of it) and no sidewalks once your are off through streets. Mind you I said children adult bicyclists get to use the side of the road. A pack of 10 year olds can use the sidewalk all they want.

          • by mjm1231 ( 751545 )

            I'd love to see you just try to ride a bicycle on a sidewalk in Manhattan. Could make a great youtube video, and maybe even give you a shot at a Darwin Award.

        • Good thing it's legal where I am and firmly suggested fro children.

        • For good reason too. Nobody wants to get run over by a bicycle going 15mph.

      • Here in the burbs to rural, were smart kids use the sidewalks it's safer for them. I didn't say it was technically legal but these are laws made by city folk for city folk. We do not realy have to contend with massive throngs of people using the sidewalks. Try biking down main st a cop will tell you to get up on the sidewalk and stop being an idiot.

        Around here we call a cyclist using a full lane obstructing the flow traffic and patently dangerous. 45+ mph speed limits and plenty of turns bike doing 5mph

        • And in these burbs, myself and my kids have almost been killed riding bikes on the sidewalk, because people don't stop before the crosswalk or look going in and out of driveways. (No seriously, both kids have had to dodge cars entering the crosswalk without stopping at the line). When riding on the streets with me, nothing even close to that.

          A cyclist using a full lane is the right and proper way to cycle (ever since the 1800's). They are not obstructing traffic, they are traffic. The bike isn't going t

          • We call it impeding traffic, cyclist are not allowed to use the full lane unless the entire road is too narrow to allow passing with the 3 foot safety in these parts. Seems like a good thing to me.

            As far as corners sorry physics says your bike loses every time, as I said my state does not allow bikes to use the full lane and any road where it's a 45-55mph speed limit it's wide enough for a bike to stay on the side. If your mid road you're allready in the wrong when you get hit.

  • by DriveDog ( 822962 ) on Friday June 03, 2016 @08:21AM (#52241237)
    Hum? All the time? Come on, what we don't need is more noise. More than any other vehicles, Google cars are aware of potentially intruding objects. Make the sounds when they might help. Do not make sounds when unnecessary. What is it about current society that wants noise all the time?
  • Will there be a NYC mode where it will do an angry honk .05 second after the light turns green? If not, it's a non-starter for NYC drivers.

  • tell me when it gets road rage and starts honking at pedestrians before mowing them over and then i'll be impressed! :)

  • by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Friday June 03, 2016 @08:43AM (#52241391)

    This reminds of a completely irrelevant joke: A man comes into a pub carrying a goose. The publican asks "Does it honk?" - "No", says the man, "- he can hold his drink".

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Must be a regional thing, but I've never heard the term "honk" used relating to being drunk before, while it's obviously being used quite a bit in here today :)

      • Not so much drunk as the effects of being too drunk. Our culture is blessed with veritbale multitude of expressions for vomiting.

  • by Art Challenor ( 2621733 ) on Friday June 03, 2016 @08:44AM (#52241405)
    Another US-centric algorithm! Absolutely wrong for some of the world's major cities, Rome, Mexico City, Manila, etc.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Be fair, the concept of a self driving car as being made by most companies (tends to follow the rules of the road, stays in lane, does some semblance of the speed limit, avoids accidents, etc.) is generally a poor fit for Rome at least. Haven't been to the other two, but I'm moderately certain that in Rome at least, attempting to avoid accidents and staying in ones lane is considered a sign of weakness and should be avoided at all cost. Or at least the lane markers are really just a suggestion and not a r

      • In parts of the usa semblance of the speed limit is like 10-15+ over and some cases up to 25 over in work zones. Do 45 at your own risk on the IL-tollway.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        Be fair, the concept of a self driving car as being made by most companies (tends to follow the rules of the road, stays in lane, does some semblance of the speed limit, avoids accidents, etc.) is generally a poor fit for Rome at least. Haven't been to the other two, but I'm moderately certain that in Rome at least, attempting to avoid accidents and staying in ones lane is considered a sign of weakness and should be avoided at all cost. Or at least the lane markers are really just a suggestion and not a rea

  • by dyslexicbunny ( 940925 ) on Friday June 03, 2016 @08:56AM (#52241507)

    while(location == Boston)
              horn.honk;
    end

    You'd think everyone was in a rush going to save someone's life that's critical at the hospital.

  • All it takes is one wrong honk toward one wrong recipient and it's lights-out for the nerd inside the Google car.
  • My wife and I shared the driving about equally. Equally concerned about safety, we didn't want the driver to be distracted by orally abusing and gesticulating at offending drivers we encountered on our journeys. It's an important function of driving, but reduces overall safety. We settled on a plan such that whoever was driving would continue on course even after a serious transgression by a road companion ... while the passenger would open the window and express his/her self at the offender with extreme vo

  • Yeah, those are the words that come to mind when I think about someone honking their car horn.

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Friday June 03, 2016 @09:22AM (#52241783)

    What about not moving at green lights? I some times have to due that to people.

  • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Friday June 03, 2016 @09:23AM (#52241787) Homepage Journal
    How do they know if a girl is worth honking at? Can they detect pretty girls?
  • It would be cool if they could occasionally honk at an attractive and well-put-together man or woman that they see walking down the street. Now THAT would signal the arrival of true AI!

  • The sad thing is they also said it will take them 3-5 years to figure out how to implement the turn signals.
  • by cfalcon ( 779563 ) on Friday June 03, 2016 @10:12AM (#52242343)

    This is a cool advancement, because it shows that the cars are getting good at sending a message. But do they LISTEN to honks?

    • I wouldn't think so. First off, it would have no idea if the honk were directed at it or some other vehicle.

      But mostly its because a honk is usually the equivalent of "hey idiot, pay attention". But Google's cars are always paying attention, so I don't think listening for a honk would be a valuable input.

  • I swear Google have an employee (not an AI) who keeps a list of all this little tidbits and releases them to the press every few weeks or so. Just to keep the project in the papers.

    And all the media just obediently paste them into the headline fied... :(

  • Drivers in northern California don't appear to honk unless they have their head wedged into the steering column. I get weird stares when I honk at cars in San Jose for doing things like driving in the wrong lane, when busses turn right on red right in front of me requiring me to pile on the brakes. (city bus drivers are terrible drivers considering driving is their job that they do every day)

    In the mid-west, you honk at people for commiting any offense, even if it doesn't directly impact you. Like if you s

  • by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Friday June 03, 2016 @12:07PM (#52243487)
    They need a speaker near the front grille that screams "THE LIGHT IS GREEN, ASSHOLE!"
  • I just saw a rainbow colored car going by playing "La Cucaracha" nonstop!

You see but you do not observe. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes"

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