Google Has Patented a System That Detects Road Flares in Real Time

Road flares 1 photo
Photo: Wikipedia user Dvortygirl
One small step for man, one giant leap for autonomous vehicle technology. Google has been granted a patent for a system that allows self-driving cars to detect road flares.
The American company filed the patent request last November, and the application has been authorized earlier this month. The system patented by Google uses cameras, radars and LIDAR sensors to monitor the road ahead, and it can now detect a lit road flare.

Google claims its system can identify the color spectrum of the object, as well as its brightness, and then determine if it is a road flare depending on it being stationary or moving.

Like other unforeseen objects and events, road flares are items that humans can identify without too much effort, but Google’s self-driving vehicles have to be taught to see them and to react accordingly.

We expect the Mountain View tech giant to further develop its systems and to apply for other patent requests, which will probably include object recognition solutions that will figure out if other items on the road pose a danger to a car, or if they have a relation to driving.

After all, since Google does not want steering wheels or driver controls on its autonomous cars, it has to be prepared for anything to happen on the road while the car is driving. We already know that the system can identify cyclists and even interpret their hand signals, so Google is trying to cover all areas in the development process of the self-driving car for the masses.

In theory, Google’s funds could help its tech department develop the safest car in the world regarding driving behavior. After all, humans are prone to errors and irresponsible activities, but the self-driving cars from Google should be immune to any emotional factors.

The self-driving car business might become the next tech battle of the world, so many companies are investing in this field and trying to develop suitable solutions for the relatively new segment.
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 Download: Google road flare detection technology patent (PDF)

About the author: Sebastian Toma
Sebastian Toma profile photo

Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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