GamesRead : Google is making its self-driving cars drive more like people

Google’s self-driving cars have already proven to be pretty capable autonomous chauffeurs. To make them even better at their job, though, Google has started teaching them to behave more like humans.

Things have actually gone pretty smoothly so far. In the six years they’ve been on the road, Google’s self-driving cars have only been involved in 16 traffic accidents. Of those, 12 have been rear-end collisions — and have been mostly found to be the fault of the human drivers who were following.

There’s plenty of room for improvement. The cars still tend to be overly cautious and can apply the brakes at odd times to avoid perceived risks, and those reactions can catch humans off-guard. When cornering, Google’s cars have tended to take a wide arc so as to avoid pedestrians who might step onto the roadway. The wide swing can confuse human drivers, who expect vehicles to make tighter turns.

There have also been times where the cars have misjudged what’s going on around them and reacted in decidedly non-human fashion. One car noticed a pedestrian walking near the curb, misread that as an attempt to cross the street, and applied the brakes abruptly in the middle of a three-way intersection.

To keep things less confusing for drivers on the road, Google’s making its cars more assertive. They’re getting more comfortable with taking risks, albeit still incredibly well-calculated ones. Some restrictions have also been relaxed. They could already exceed posted speed limits when necessary, and now Google’s cars can drive over double yellow lines in specific circumstances — like when a parked vehicle encroaches a bit too far. Prior to the change, the cars might sit and wait… and wait… if the only way to safely navigate around meant going a teensy bit left of center.

It probably won’t be too much longer before we can’t even tell the difference between one of Google’s cars and one being driven by a person. Apart from whether or not there are hands on the wheel or a butt in the driver’s seat, at any rate.

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