Google’s self-driving cars may be able to detect and avoid law enforcement and emergency vehicles, according to a patent from the company.
The system would predominantly be used to detect emergency vehicles, such as ambulances, and then move the car safely to the side of the road in order to prevent accidents and make it easier for emergency vehicles to reach their destination on time.
“A system and method is provided for detecting and responding to emergency vehicles. In one aspect, one or more computing devices may identify a set of light sources from an image based at least in part on one or more templates, and may filter the set of light sources in order to identify one or more light sources corresponding to a potential emergency vehicle,” explains the patent.
Moreover, the one or more computing devices may determine whether any of the one or more light sources is flashing and whether any of the one or more light sources is associated with a particular type of the potential emergency vehicle. Further, the one or more computing devices may maneuver a vehicle based on the determination to yield in response to at least one of the one or more flashing light sources and the particular type of the emergency vehicle.
It is currently unknown as to whether Google will actually implement the system, or whether it will remain a null patent, but its safe implementation might prove difficult.