Track stands are a common practice for serious cyclists. The move involves waiting at a complete stop, balancing on the bike’s tires, without removing your feet from the pedals. According to a report from Engadget, bicycle riders may want to avoid performing this move if they notice a Google autonomous vehicle at an intersection.
A cyclist in Austin, Texas reportedly completely confused a Google AV as he performed a track stand at an intersection. As he made minor movements to adjust his balance while waiting for the light to turn, the Google car lurched forward anxiously as if it were a bull ready to be set loose in the ring.
The cyclist left the intersection unscathed, but it was painfully clear that Google’s motion-sensing software did not know how to respond to the erratic movements of the biker. Lurching forward and then slamming on the brakes could prove to be a dangerous response at a crowded intersection.
Google is confident that the bug is minor, and told the Washington Post that it appreciates this kind of real world feedback. As the company seeks to develop intelligent vehicles, it must consider every possible contingency on the road.
The company still has a long way to go before these robot cars will be driving the majority of Americans around, but they have made great strides in recent years. It should be a good sign that despite the car’s erratic movements, the cyclist still felt safer around Google’s car than a manned vehicle.