Google self-driving cars are watching out for school buses

Google received a patent last week for "Bus Detection for an Autonomous Vehicle," which as the name implies, lets its self-driving cars detect buses. The patent was filed last year, long before the February 14 incident where a Google self-driving Lexus RX450h side-swiped a transit bus.

The patent filing describes Google's bus detection function, which is very simple. The self-driving car uses camera imagery to scan vehicles on the road, then compares the size of vehicles to predefined sizes. If the vehicles exceed the typical size of a car, it believes there's a bus nearby and proceeds to compare the vehicle color.

Google bus detection

Google's patent focuses mostly on detecting school buses, but the same detection algorithm should be applicable to city buses or other larger vehicles. If it detects a yellow school bus, then the autonomous car will adhere to a different set of predefined rules, like stopping to let children cross the road or slowing down instead of trying to overtake it.

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