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Google Tech to Help Autonomous Cars Communicate With Pedestrians

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Google's autonomous vehicles may speak to pedestrians, or signal to them in other ways.

A patent granted Google describes technology that could allow the company's autonomous vehicles to communicate directly with pedestrians in some fashion.


Google has been granted a patent on technology that would attempt to give the company's autonomous vehicles the ability to communicate their "intention" to pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections.

The patent notes "autonomous vehicles lack the capability to directly communicate the vehicle's future behavior." Human drivers can use non-verbal signals such as making eye contact or hand gestures to indicate to pedestrians that they will allow them to cross the street before proceeding. Autonomous vehicles, by contrast, only have traditional vehicle features such as turn signals, headlights, and horns.

The patent proposes methods of using an autonomous vehicle's sensors, such as cameras, lasers, and radar, to detect when pedestrians are present and when communicating with them might be advisable. It also proposes several technologies that might be used to communicate with pedestrians, including electronic signs, lights, a speaker, or robotic hands and eyes. The technologies could be used to communicate the vehicle's intention to slow down, continue without change, stop, or yield.

From eWeek
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