When learning how to drive, one is usually taught that when an emergency vehicle is behind you flashing its lights and sirens that you should get out of their way so as to not hinder their progress in reaching their destination. Now it seems that this is something that Waymo is looking to teach its self-driving cars.

Waymo has been working to teach its self-driving cars to detect emergency vehicles over the past few years, and recently they’ve been stepping up their efforts. “In collaboration with Chandler Police and Fire, we set up the first emergency vehicle testing day with our new self-driving minivans. Throughout the day and into the night, our vehicles — equipped with a powerful suite of sensors — observed police cars, motorcycles, ambulances, firetrucks, and even a few undercover vehicles as they trailed, passed and led our self-driving cars.”

According to Waymo, “Today, our self-driving minivans are capable of hearing twice as far as they could with our last suite of sensors. And with our new sensors, we’re teaching our software to discern which direction the sirens are likely coming from. Drivers often hear the sirens of an emergency vehicle first, so being able to gauge the direction of an oncoming fire truck or ambulance allows our self-driving vehicles to make smarter and safer decisions.”

It seems that not only can their cars hear the sirens, but they can also detect flashing lights thanks to the customized vision system. While self-driving cars have yet to be fully approved, such features will no doubt help convince regulators that self-driving cars will not prove to be dangerous or a hindrance while on the road.

Filed in Transportation. Read more about and .

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