Google’s self-driving cars are learning how to honk at drivers and pedestrians

Google cars can now honk when needed

Google’s self-driving cars are learning an important function that New Yorkers love — How to honk.

During the company’s monthly car program report, the company says it started to teach its cars to honk horns in events that they need to warn human drivers and pedestrians about potential collisions.

“Our goal is to teach our cars to honk like a patient, seasoned driver,” said the report. “As we become more experienced honkers, we hope our cars will also be able to predict how other drivers respond to a beep in different situations.”

Google is even teaching the cars to honk in different ways, depending on the circumstances.

“If another vehicle is slowly reversing towards us, we might sound two short, quieter pips as a friendly heads up to let the driver know we’re behind,” the report said. “However, if there’s a situation that requires more urgency, we’ll use one loud sustained honk.”

 

Sometimes the cars are so quiet they even need to honk as a warning.

“Quiet isn’t always a good thing,” the report said. “Pedestrians and cyclists often rely on sound to alert them to a nearby car, particularly if they’re about to cross the street or change lanes.”

The fleet of 58 cars on the road are adding 10,000 to 15,000 additional miles a week in self-driving mode.