Google’s self-driving cars might be super smart, yet they need to follow the traffic rules while on road. According to traffic rules in most countries, a car driver should immediately stop their car on the side of the road when a police vehicle approaches the car.
Further, police vehicles are sometimes engaged in a pursuit operation. During these close chasing operations, the police vehicle has the authority to jump traffic signals and run without any speed limitations. However, an obstruction of any form could disrupt the emergency response operation.
Therefore, Google has developed a police vehicle detection system for their self-driving cars. The detection system automatically detects police vehicles based on the pattern of flashing lights on the police cars. For example, in the US, the police vehicles often have a flashing light system with four different light sources in a generally horizontal configuration. The four light sources emit a red light and a blue light alternatively.
Once a police vehicle is detected, the self-driving car manoeuvres itself to yield to the police vehicle; for example, by pulling over to a side of a road.
The system can also be used to detect other types of emergency vehicles such as ambulances based on ambulance light patterns.
Publication number: US 20160252905
Patent Title: Real-time active emergency vehicle detection
Publication date: 1 Sep 2016
Filing date: 28 Aug 2014
Inventors: Yuandong Tian; Wan-Yen Lo; David Ian Franklin Ferguson;
Original Assignee: Google Inc.