Google's Self-Driving Cars Will Honk At You If You're Not Paying Attention

They'll always be watching.
A prototype of Google's own self-driving vehicle.
A prototype of Google's own self-driving vehicle.
Elijah Nouvelage / Reuters

Google's self-driving cars are getting smarter.

Prototype vehicles are now able to recognize when honks are appropriate and even modulate how they use the horn, the company said in its most recent monthly report.

"As our honking algorithms improved, we’ve begun broadcasting our car horn to the world," the report said.

"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," it continued. "However, if there’s a situation that requires more urgency, we’ll use one loud sustained honk."

Driverless cars may be the future, but we're not getting there all at once. Even after we've moved from prototypes to the real deal -- with autonomous vehicles sharing highway space next to the carpool lane -- we'll have plenty of human drivers on the road. So robot drivers will need to be able to get along with us.

The new developments from Google essentially mean that its self-driving cars can alert you to dangerous situations -- in theory, making roads a bit safer. If you were to swerve into a lane occupied by Google's car, it would honk at you, hopefully calling you to attention and making the rest of your commute a bit more focused.

Sure, no one likes a car horn -- but this sounds pretty good to us.

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