Google’s Self-Driving Cars just hit two million miles of real-world, public road driving experience.
Dmitri Dolgov, Google’s Head of Self-Driving Car Technology, explains how one of the major challenges now is to pass what I might call the “automotive Turing test”:
Over the last year, we’ve learned that being a good driver is more than just knowing how to safely navigate around people, but also knowing how to interact with them.
In a delicate social dance, people signal their intentions in a number of ways. For example, merging into traffic during rush hour is an exercise in negotiation: I’d like to cut in. May I cut in? If I speed up a little and move into the lane, will you slow down and leave me room, or will you speed up? So much of driving relies on these silent conversations conducted via gentle nudge-and-response. Because we’ve observed or interacted with hundreds of millions of vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, our software is much better at reliably predicting the trajectory, speed, and intention of other road users. Our cars can often mimic these social behaviors and communicate our intentions to other drivers, while reading many cues that tell us if we’re able to pass, cut in or merge.