What the Hell Are These People Doing Around Google's Self-Driving Cars?

By Chris Mills on at

Among the many different hazards Google’s cars have to handle on the road is one particularly annoying one: pedestrians acting like idiots when they see Google’s cute little machines in the wild.

During the SXSW conference last month, Director of Google’s Self-Driving Car Project Chris Urmson detailed the weirdest things that the cars have seen in their 2.5 million miles on the road. Among the highlights: people playing Frogger, as seen above; also people chasing ducks in the street with a broom, and pants-less men running in front of the car.

Urmson says that Google “has an entire division of people to come up with weird stuff, but none of them could beat this”. In the company’s report on self-driving cars for March, it laid out a little more detail about its private test track, and the weird things it does to try and teach its cars about the outside world.

Apart from the comedy value of watching people leapfrog in front of a self-driving car, there’s also an important takeaway: Google’s cars are actually dealing with weird shit surprisingly well. They slow down, assess the situation, and generally wait for it to stop, without panicking or taking evasive action.

Otherwise, there’s little of interest in Google’s monthly report. One vehicle was involved in a crash, but it was a rear-ending that you’ll be hard-pressed to blame Google for. [Google]