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Google gets a patent on school bus detection for its self-driving prototypes

Published: March 15, 2016 | Mountain View, CA

Google has recently been issued a patent on “school bus detection” that will enable its self-driving cars to act more cautiously around children. The patent was filed on March 8, weeks after a Google’s self-driving prototype hit a school bus.


The patent describes a multi-layer system that would compare the relative sizes of vehicles on the road. Once it found something large enough, the software would check that against the known size of a school bus. The tech would also analyze the color, check for a stop sign, and search for the word “School” on the exterior. Once the system positively identified the school bus, the software would tell the vehicle to operate more cautiously. It would also be ready for the vehicle’s stop sign to deploy and expect a greater number of pedestrians.

Google’s self-driving car team has a history of focusing on children. For instance, last year Google said it was teaching its self-driving prototype vehicles to better recognize children—and act more cautiously around them—even when they’re outfitted in unfamiliar costumes.

To give the self-driving car sensors and software extra practice, Google had children at the company’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters stand around its parked cars. The company also had children dressed in Halloween costumes.

Source: Fortune, Recode


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