Google's Self-Driving Vehicles to Get Lesson in Defensive Driving

Nov 28, 2014 08:30 PM EST | Matt Mercuro

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Google's self-driving vehicles have logged almost three-quarters of a million miles on public roads. Now its Safety Drivers have decided that the vehicles are safe enough if they take on a more human-style assertiveness.

Google spokeswoman said recently that its Safety Drivers, or Google employees that go out in cars and take notes on how they're doing, have seen instances where it's actually safer for the vehicle to speed up to change lanes, instead of slowing down or maintaining speed while waiting for an opening.

The spokeswoman added that Safety Drivers have seen the vehicles do best at a four-way stop when they indicate their intentions by creeping forward, not by using a more computer-like style approach like waiting for all other cars to stop for a specific amount of time.

Priscilla Knox, Google Safety Driver, tested the car's behavior on the road in a recent video, and mentioned that it's important for the car "to drive in a naturalistic way. Because when it's natural and the car abides by social norms on the road, it's also safer."

The Google's spokeswoman said to Edmunds that the company provides feedback so that engineers can "fine tune the whole driving experience." This allows the company to provide information on how the vehicles will be adapted to this new understanding.

Google's testers have strictly been using Toyota and Lexus models so far, like the RX 450h SUV, which has been adapted to add the search engine giant's radar and other enhancements.

Back in May, Google debuted its prototype of a consumer self-driving vehicle that doesn't have a steering wheel or pedals. It also doesn't have a brake or accelerator, making things exciting and nerve-wracking for an occupant.

Google is leading the way amongst its tech rivals when it comes to autonomous driving, and is putting the pressure on other automakers to catch-up.

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