Google’s head of self-driving tech: We’re not building a car, we’re building the driver – Recode

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Google — which has been working on its self-driving cars since 2009 — is not in the car-making business. Nope, Google is in the superhuman-driver-making business, according to Dmitri Dolgov, the company’s head of self-driving technology.Driving is a social activity, Dolgov told Recode during a live walk-through of the technology on Google’s self-driving car. That means that the car has to not only be able to detect and recognize humans and other objects, it also has to be able to interact with, understand and react to their behavior.To that end, the company’s self-driving software has developed to be able to detect and understand things like hand signals — a uniform method of symbolic communication that pedestrians and human drivers often use on the road — and react appropriately. So, when a bicyclist, for example, signals left using his or her hand, the car will react as a (generous) human might.For Google, developing an ideal driver also means creating a suite of sensors and software that can be used to drive everywhere, regardless of the make or model of the vehicle.“It doesn’t matter,” Dolgov said. “We’re building a driver. We’ve been on Prius, Lexus; we have our own prototype, and we’re now working with Fiat Chrysler on a new platform.“As far as the software is concerned, it’s the same thing,” he continued. “It’s like you getting into another car. You get a rental — maybe it’s a little bit bigger, and it doesn’t quite handle the same way as your own car. It takes you time to get used to, but the core tasks transfer.”

Source: Google’s head of self-driving tech: We’re not building a car, we’re building the driver – Recode

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