A lot of people are excited to hop into a car one day and read emails and tweets as the car drives itself, and you, to work. It would cut down on the anxiety we all feel during our daily commutes, as well as keep the roads safer.
Google’s self-driving project is leading the pack, and a recently granted patent (Patent #: US009196164, granted 11/24/15) signals that the company is trying to pick off some of the issues they’ve been facing with how pedestrians and other drivers interact with them on the streets.
From the abstract portion of the patent:
Aspects of the disclosure relate generally to notifying a pedestrian of the intent of a self-driving vehicle. For example, the vehicle may include sensors which detect an object such as a pedestrian attempting or about to cross the roadway in front of the vehicle. The vehicle’s computer may then determine the correct way to respond to the pedestrian. For example, the computer may determine that the vehicle should stop or slow down, yield, or stop if it is safe to do so. The vehicle may then provide a notification to the pedestrian of what the vehicle is going to or is currently doing. For example, the vehicle may include a physical signaling device, an electronic sign or lights, a speaker for providing audible notifications, etc.
So basically, if a self-driving car were to get the green light and is about to proceed forward, it could flash a stop sign on the right hand side to let pedestrians know not to cross. Pedestrians, after all, always have the right of way.
Other companies are in the race to get their cars on the road, so grabbing up patents for the technology is essential. Would Tesla, Uber or Apple license technology such as this? Well, they’ll have to at least talk to Google first. You thought the phone wars was a land of copycats and lawsuits. Wait until these cars start rolling out for consumers.
Start yer engines.