Encounter Between Google Self-Driving Car and Cyclist Shows a Glimpse of the Future

Will we still call cars that way if there’s no human holding the wheel? Is there going to be a hipster club of renegades driving regular autos for the sake of old times? Are we going to experience a never-seen-before unemployment crisis? These questions are just a couple from a long list of issues petrolheads are debating. One thing is sure, though, driving will be safe.
Google Self-Driving Car 1 photo
Photo: Search Engine Roundtable
If safety won’t be at the highest levels, the journey to a world where all cars are driving themselves defeats the purpose. The IT giant is looking to make sure motorists and passengers alike feel safer on the street with this weirdos driving around autonomously, which is why the story we’re about to share with you guys is both comforting and frightening.

Earlier this month in Austin, a cyclist and a Google self-driving car met at a four-way stop, according to The Washington Post. Nothing unique to such an encounter, but things turned interesting the moment the cyclist started doing a track stand. This basically means holding a balanced standing position that allows the rider to keep his foot off the pavement without pedaling.

Google’s self-driving car is packed with cameras and sensors that all work together through an Artificial Intelligence system that will find the best solution out of each situation in traffic, thus making sure safety is absolute. In this case, the biker was slowly shifting forward and back in the effort to maintain balance, a type of action the autonomous cars have yet to figure out.

Not to worry, though, since the independent machine still made sure nobody was harmed. Here’s how the cyclist recalls the experience.

“It apparently detected my presence (it's covered in Go-Pros) and stayed stationary for several seconds. It finally began to proceed, but as it did, I rolled forward an inch while still standing. The car immediately stopped... I continued to stand; it continued to stay stopped. Then, as it began to move again, I had to rock the bike to maintain balance. It stopped abruptly. We repeated this little dance for about two full minutes and the car never made it past the middle of the intersection. The two guys inside were laughing and punching stuff into a laptop, I guess trying to modify some code to 'teach' the car something about how to deal with the situation.

All in all, it turns out that even if Google’s self-driving car was confused, it still managed to keep things completely safe, something that the cyclist in question also appreciated.

This entire story may not seem like a big deal to most of the petrolheads out there. But if you think about it a little longer, you may realize this could be the first encounter between Google’s autonomous vehicle and a fellow motorist in which the later feels more protected than if an actual human being drove the car. He felt that way and also wanted to share his experience with others.
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