Google released an update on its self-driving car concept in a Monday video showing just how busy — and successful — the company’s model really is, and in the real world.
In the last year and a half, the company has apparently focused on city driving and the various obstacles it presents, both figurative and literal, for a self-driving car to maintain the safety of its passengers and those around the car in a populated urban environment.
“Our team is responsible for keeping the cars and other people safe while on the road, and for providing feedback on how they perform in the real world,” Google self-driving car project test driver Priscilla said in the new video.
According to the Silicon Valley giant its self-driving car can now detect “hundreds of distinct objects” like crossing-guard stop signs, bicyclist hand gestures, railroad crossings, disabled vehicles, passing pedestrians, etc., all simultaneously and react appropriately, giving deference to people and objects around it to ensure safety. All of those signals are now recognized in addition to complex intersections, traffic signs and signals, and processed at the same time.
“A big part of our job is to go out into the world and uncover all the potential scenarios that a car might encounter, then we help the engineers teach the car how to best navigate each one,” Priscilla said.
The car was also able to adapt to unexpected situations like closed lanes, forced mergers and disabled vehicles, and move around them — even reacting appropriately to a cyclist who made multiple different hand gestures and changed his mind several times while traveling in front of the car.
“Thousands of situations on city streets that would have stumped us two years ago can now be navigated autonomously,” project director Chris Urmson said of the self-driving car’s tests in Google’s hometown of Mountain View, Calif.
Google’s self-driving vehicles have now traveled 700,000 real-road miles according to a Verge report, but still have more testing to undergo in Mountain View streets before moving on to another town according to Urmson.