Google's self-driving car breakthrough: Stop sign no longer a problem

Auto auto's new code can also see cyclists' arm-waving, dodge roadworks


Vid Google has updated the software in its self-driving cars after spending the past year running prototypes around its hometown of Mountain View, California, to test the vehicles' performance on hectic city streets.

The advertising giant said its code had spotted hundreds of distinct objects, having logged thousands of miles of rubber on tarmac. As a result, its tech can now, we're told, identify buses, stop signs, pedestrians and cyclists, even picking out hand gestures by riders to indicate a turn.

And Google claimed that its self-driving car has a much better attention-span than a human being, because the system is programmed to pick up on lots of different bits of detail at once without being distracted.

Project director Chris Urmson at the web goliath said in a blog post:

As it turns out, what looks chaotic and random on a city street to the human eye is actually fairly predictable to a computer. As we’ve encountered thousands of different situations, we’ve built software models of what to expect, from the likely (a car stopping at a red light) to the unlikely (blowing through it).

We still have lots of problems to solve, including teaching the car to drive more streets in Mountain View before we tackle another town, but thousands of situations on city streets that would have stumped us two years ago can now be navigated autonomously.

To date, Google said it had logged nearly 700,000 autonomous miles with its self-driving cars.

The vid above from the firm shows, among other things, how the vehicles might overcome unexpected construction work on the road. ®

Youtube Video of self-driving car dodging roadworks

Similar topics

Broader topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • Microsoft-backed robovans to deliver grub in London
    British startup Wayve gets supercomputing leg up

    Microsoft is pumping supercomputing oomph as well as funds into a British-born autonomous vehicle startup.

    On Wednesday Wayve, the upstart in question, confirmed it has struck a deal with Microsoft – not surprising since Redmond has already sunk a chunk of change into the business – to use Azure to train next-gen self-driving machines from data collected from human drivers out on the road. Richard Branson, Meta AI Chief Yann LeCun, and other heavyweights are also early investors alongside the Windows giant.

    "Joining forces with Microsoft to design the supercomputing infrastructure needed to accelerate deep learning for autonomous mobility is an opportunity that we are honored to lead," said Alex Kendall, CEO of Wayve.

    Continue reading
  • Cars in driver-assist mode hit a third of cyclists, all oncoming cars in tests
    Still think we're ready for that autonomous future?

    Autonomous cars may be further away than believed. Testing of three leading systems found they hit a third of cyclists, and failed to avoid any oncoming cars.

    The tests [PDF] performed by the American Automobile Association (AAA) looked at three vehicles: a 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe with Highway Driving Assist; a 2021 Subaru Forester with EyeSight; and a 2020 Tesla Model 3 with Autopilot.

    According to the AAA, all three systems represent the second of five autonomous driving levels, which require drivers to maintain alertness at all times to seize control from the computer when needed. There are no semi-autonomous cars generally available to the public that are able to operate above level two.

    Continue reading
  • Pony.ai lassos China's first autonomous taxi license
    100 self-driving cabs will wander streets of Guangzhou

    Residents of Chinese metropolises Guangzhou and Beijing may be in for a surprise the next time they hail a cab – some of them are now self-driving.

    Autonomous driving company Pony.ai is the operator, and the only business of its kind granted a license to run driverless cabs in China, the company said. It has tested vehicles, including a driverless semi truck, in all four of China's tier-one cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen), and actual service in Guangzhou marks its first formal deployment.

    According to Pony.ai, it had to meet stringent licensing requirements that included 24 months of testing in China or abroad, at least 1 million kilometers of driven distance, at least 200,000 of which must be driven in Guangzhou's automated driving test area. During the test period, Pony.ai also had to maintain a flawless driving record without any active liability accidents.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022