In the November report for their self-driving cars Google talks about the latest development focus. And this is currently how a Google car sees and behaves motorcycles. Motorcycles form their own distinctive and very diverse category of traffic participants. Not only, because they come in many different shapes, but also because they are driven in a variety of ways.
While with a Harley Davidson a rider cruised with using the full lane, sportbikes often are driven more aggressively zipping between cars on the lane markers. That makes riding a motor bike pretty dangerous. In the US motorcyclist account for 27 times more fatalities per mile driven than car drivers.
One of the Google engineers himself is a passionate motorcyclist. That’s why he especially makes sure that the Google cars see them 100 percent. Human drivers often oversee motorbikes and cause accidents. Motorcycles also do have their own visual characteristic, which is different from cyclists. The cars learned to distinguish them through machine learning. They have encountered tens of thousands of motorbikes over the course of the past years, and with each encounter the recognition becomes better.
Further news in the November report were pretty unspectacular. Not a single Google car was involved in an accident. And the 58 vehicles drove 113,913 miles (182,261 kilometers) in autonomous mode. Those numbers do not yet consider the test drives with the new Chrysler Pacifica Minivans.