For bicyclists, distracted and drunk drivers can present a fatal danger. If a driver takes their focus off the road for a fraction of a second or swerves into a bike lane, it could cost a cyclist their life. When drivers drive unpredictably, this also presents a danger to cyclists as they constantly assess and reassess their environments to maneuver safely on the road.
Situations arise while driving that still challenge many human drivers. Dynamic driving is difficult. People are often called upon to make split-second decisions with insufficient context. Waymo’s technology is designed to see in every direction, at all times to try and overcome this challenge. This constant, vigilant monitoring of the car’s surroundings informs Waymo’s driving decisions and can lead to safer outcomes.
Unlike humans, self-driving cars are never distracted, drunk, or drowsy while behind the wheel. Waymo is using data gathered from simulation, real-world driving, and its private, closed-course testing facility to improve safety for all.
Waymo’s sensors allow it to see 360 degrees, day and night, up to nearly three football fields away. This ensures that Waymo sees bicyclists whether they are in front of, beside, or behind the vehicle. Waymo’s powerful software also gives it the ability to classify other users on the road and anticipate what they might do next.
Different cities and states have different regulations related to cyclists, such as when it’s okay to make a right turn on roads where there are bike lanes. These safety laws and regulations are built into Waymo’s system. Further, Waymo’s internal roadmap for how to safely interact with the world is customized for every Waymo zone.
Waymo is always thinking a few steps ahead. If Waymo’s software perceives that an adjacent lane ahead is closed due to construction, and predicts that a cyclist in that lane will move over, our planner can make the decision to slow down or make room for the cyclist well ahead of time.
Waymo is also constantly refining its driving so its movements on the road are natural and predictable for other road users.
Human drivers sometimes leave the scene if they are involved in an incident with a cyclist or motorcyclist. If Waymo is involved in an incident with a cyclist, it is programmed to detect the collision and safely come to a complete stop. Waymo’s system will notify Waymo’s operations center and initiation procedures of interacting with law enforcement.
All data from the incident can be analyzed to understand what may have caused it. Waymo will then use the data to change its software and update every vehicle in its fleet.