It’s a lot more complicated than recognizing those red-and-blue flashing lights

The development of autonomous driving technology is a complicated process that involves tackling numerous details and minutiae. If anything, the race to develop the tech has shown us that there a lot of different ways to approach it. Google is proving as much as it has filed a patent to help autonomous driving vehicles recognize emergency vehicles on the road and act accordingly in the event its self-driving cars encounter them on the road.

The patent, which was filed back in 2014, is largely tied into a process of teaching autonomous driving cars to respond in certain ways to specific road stimuli, which in this case is the presence of an emergency vehicle. The system Google is developing deals with recognizing the unique flashing patterns from emergency vehicles, be it a police car, an ambulance, or a fire truck, and taking action to allow these cars to pass through. These actions usually involve pulling over on the side of the road by itself, or in some cases, stopping altogether.

The process in identifying a set of light sources and determining the nature of the light sources is an admittedly tricky prospect, especially for a car that drives by itself. Google’s system, while intriguing in the same manner as any tech attached to autonomous driving, aims to process all of this information in as short a time as possible, giving its self-driving cars enough time to take action in the event action is deemed necessary.

That said, there are a lot of challenges that remain before the system is polished enough to understand a specific situation. For instance, a police cruiser that has pulled over a different car ahead does not require the system to act. Likewise, an emergency vehicle stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic is going to be difficult to navigate around without causing some potential issues with other cars stuck in the same situation.

The technology itself could prove to be useful down the road and Google, being the company that it is, should be credited for recognizing the need for such a system to be developed. But given that the development is still in its embryonic stage, it’s going to be interesting to see how the tech giant deals can adapt the system it has patented to deal with the myriad of complex road situations it’s going to be subjected to.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

There’s More to Autonomous Driving Technology than Meets the Eye

While Google’s patent in it of itself has some potential benefits for autonomous driving technology, the report about it paints a clear picture that the race to develop the technology is much more complicated than a lot of people realize. The technology to recognize the flashing lights of emergency vehicles is just one layer of a multi-layered system that is being developed to completely change the landscape of the industry.

That’s the important thing to remember here and it’s important that people don’t get lost in the advancements without recognizing that there are so many things that need to be developed in order to create a technology that will benefit everybody. The key is to understand on a macro level the other key aspects of the technology and working on them on a micro level the way Google is reportedly doing with this specific system. If you think all of the details about autonomous driving technology have already been laid out, then you’re not paying attention.

I personally don’t know how far along the company is in the development of the system it patented back in 2014. What I do know is that it’s another positive step in the right direction towards a future that will be largely dictated by autonomous driving technology.

Source: FPO

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert -
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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