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Bikes That Talk in a World of Self-Driving Cars

The question of whether self-driving cars will make streets and roads a safer place for humans depends on whether technology can protect the most vulnerable users.
July 25, 2017, 2pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Margaret J. Krauss writes: "Proponents of self-driving cars say they'll make the world safer, but autonomous vehicles need to predict what bicyclists are going to do. Now researchers say part of the answer is to have bikes feed information to cars."

Krauss refers to research underway by Waymo, "the self-driving car company that began life in 2009 as a Google project," and shares insight from the millions of miles of self-driving experiments already logged by the team led by Waymo's principal software engineer, National Fairfield. "By tracking a flock of cyclists, Waymo's cars were learning how bikes move through the world," explains Krauss. "But that's not enough." Self-driving cars also need to predict what bikes are going to do next, according to Fairfield.

Krauss also examines the work of Uber's self-driving cars tests in Pittsburgh. Anthony Rowe, an associate engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University, describes work in that city to outfit bikes with technology that could someday be installed on a smartphone to work in concert with a world of self-driving cars.

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Published on Monday, July 24, 2017 in National Public Radio
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