Fire engines, police cruiser, and ambulances drove a full day in Chandler, Arizona with Waymo’s self-driving cars. But not to stop the cars and give them tickets, but to give them an opportunity to recognize emergency vehicles and react accordingly. Even police motorbikes were part of the exercise.
On a closed up street the emergency vehicles drove behind, beside, and in front of the Pacifica Minivans of the Google-subsidiary, with and without lights and sirens. And all that under changing light conditions from morning to evening. Also the sound of sirens is changing depending on the direction where the vehicle is coming from and driving too, but also due to wind strength and direction.
Waymo engineer had thus an opportunity to train the vehicles on recognizing emergency vehicles, interpret their intentions, and have the Waymo-vehicles react correspondingly. In case an ambulance approaches from behind with signals on the Waymo-car has to act by driving to the side and letting the emergency vehicle pass.
For many years Waymo-cars know how to let other cars pass, but now this has been tested under different wind and light conditions. Here is a video of this “summer crash course” for the Waymo-cars:
This article has also been published in German.