Kids in Costume Teach Google's Self-Driving Cars to Be More Cautious Around Children

Google invited a bunch of kids to hang out around its cars.

ByABC News
November 2, 2015, 10:39 AM

— -- A bunch of kids helped make Google's self-driving cars even smarter.

With the Halloween festivities in full swing last week, Google said it invited the costumed children who visited Google's campus -- presumably with their employee parents -- to hang out around the company's parked fleet of self-driving cars. The purpose, the company said, was to help the cars' sensors and software become even more attuned to recognizing when children are close by.

"This gives our sensors and software extra practice at recognizing children in all their unique shapes and sizes, even when they're in odd costumes," the company said in a post. "We teach our cars to drive more cautiously around children."

Google's self-driving cars are equipped with sensors and software that enable it to detect objects near a car and predict how they will behave, letting the self-driving car safely navigate even the most complicated driving scenarios. Google's software is so smart, the company said it even knows children may behave differently and makes sure the cars take appropriate precautions, much how a driver may slow down and have their foot close to a break when driving past kids playing in the street.

"Children's movements can be more unpredictable -- suddenly darting across the road or running down a sidewalk -- and they’re easily obscured behind parked cars," the Google post said. "So even if our cars can’t quite appreciate the effort the kids put in dressing as their favorite character from Frozen, they’re still paying full attention!"