Google's self-driving car is a better driver than you are

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Whilst popular media has long taught us to fear our robot overlords, but as a new video released by Google shows, we might have been wrong about them all along. Cyclists in particular will appreciate the latest updates to the project.

The self-driving car project is still in the research and development phase at Mountain View, so don’t expect to be picking up a Google car any time soon – though as the video above indicates, it is progressing very nicely indeed.

The video shows a simulated view of the car’s surroundings – as detected by the car. It’s able to detect different potential obstacles and figure out what makes them different – for example, picking out cyclists as different from cars, and also roadworks. This data can then be used to figure out what the best course of action is – for example, as shown it is able to predict the cyclist’s movements based on hand signals, and so hang back whilst the cyclist crosses the car’s path.

Similarly, the car is also able to recognise roadworks – and amazingly in the video is shown successfully navigating its way between sets of cones, by picking out the orange colours.

It’s really quite impressive – and it’ll be interesting to see how long before Google get to a point where they can release it. Personally though, before then I’d like to see the company take a self-driving car to the winding backstreets of London, or pretty much anywhere in Europe – which will no doubt provide a greater challenge than the wide roads and urban sprawl of North America.

James O’Malley