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Google is teaching its self-driving car to honk its horn

Great, now even the robots are going to act like jerks.


Every month, Google releases a report on its autonomous-car project. Some updates discuss simple topics, like where the cars are operating or how many miles were driven. May 2016's report has that, but it's also got some interesting little tidbits, like the fact that Google taught its car to use its horn.

The horn isn't just there to help you vent your frustrations. In fact, it can be used in a variety of helpful ways, and that's why Google's introducing horn usage in its autonomous cars. If someone begins to swerve into the car's lane, or someone starts backing out of a driveway at the wrong time, it'll beep.

Researchers started out by sounding the horn only inside the vehicle, to ensure that the car wasn't using the horn incorrectly, which could cause human drivers to react in strange ways. Its honking is now outside the car, though, and it has two different types of honk -- two little beeps as "a friendly heads up," and a sustained honk for more dire situations.

Google also used May's report to discuss its engine note, or the complete lack thereof. As an electric car, Google's autonomous vehicles don't make noise. Thus, to provide some proof of existence to the visually impaired, Google's given its car a little "hum," which it built based on inspiration from other vehicles, consumer electronics and even art. The report also states that the company previously experimented with orca noises, which is a little...strange.

The company only had one accident to report this past month, as well. On May 4, one of its vehicles hit a median at 9 mph. The human occupant was in charge, so it's not the software's fault, and thankfully the damage was minor, with no other vehicles involved. Perhaps the software should start teaching the humans how to drive...