Google teaches self-driving cars how to honk

Google has started teaching its self-driving cars how to honk, Business Insider reported citing Google's May Self-Driving Car Project Monthly Report. 

According to the report, Google's self-honking cars, in theory, at least, would be far more polite and considerate than when and how human drivers honk.

"Our self-driving software is designed to recognise when honking may help alert other drivers to our presence - for example, when a driver begins swerving into our lane or backing out of a blind driveway," the report says.

To ensure that the cars would honk only when it was absolutely necessary, Google is teaching the cars' software to distinguish between situations that demand honking and false positives. Every time the car honked inappropriately, Google's test drivers made a note so as to eliminate the error in the next iteration of the car's software.

The Google car has been 'taught' two types of honks for use in different scenarios - two short toots if a car ahead was slowly reversing back into the Google car, and one, longer honk for more urgent situations.

The report details how Google designed the sound produced by its autonomous cars. Electric cars are much quieter as compared to normal cars, so manufacturers add a sonic imprint that allows pedestrians and cyclists to know that the car was nearby.

Google tried to make the sound "friendly and a little futuristic" and also experimented with many different sounds, including those produced by an orca.