Google’s Self-Driving Car Is Learning How To Honk

The car will now honk at your bad driving, just like humans do.

Beep beep! — AFP/Getty Images
Jun 03, 2016 at 9:57 AM ET

If you live in a major city where car horns are used with frequent and reckless abandon, it might be hard to remember this—but horns do serve an important purpose. They warn other drivers who might be blindly driving towards you that you are there, and give jaywalkers looking at their phones a reminder to get out of the way.

Google’s self-driving cars are getting in on the beeping action, according to the company’s monthly report. The “honking algorithm” is now ready for road testing, and even has two types of beeps: the casual “Hey I’m behind you so stop reversing” honk, which is two short, “quiet” toots, and the “LOOK OUT, OMG!” sustained blast for emergency situations.

Google says its cars will be “polite, considerate, and only honk when it makes driving safe for everyone,” and that its goal is “to teach our cars to honk like a patient, seasoned driver,” although those two adjectives do not actually go together.