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Google driverless cars to have ears, patent suggests

Google has patented a technology that might make take the hassle out of stopping, looking and listening before proceeding. The search giant wants its driverless cars to listen to their surroundings, with a view to taking over from the driver if the hapless humans proceed when it’s unsafe to do so.

One example of how the technology could be used involves pedestrian crossings, the Telegraph reported. Your Google-powered ride could listen for the sound of beeping, while it also watches for red lights or countdown timers, bringing the car to a halt if the driver fails to do so. 

Vehicular hearing ability could also be a god-send for drivers that regularly play loud music in their cars or have impaired hearing. 

Google hopes the combination of sight and sound will make driverless cars more adept at avoiding obstacles, despite the fact that its autonomous vehicles have yet to suffer any accidents that were the fault of the technology itself. 

Google has been working on autonomous cars for a number of years, with legislation to allow public road testing already given the green light in California and more states are planning to follow suit.

The UK government recently expressed its interest in becoming a world leader in taking the technology off the drawing board and onto our streets. A prize of £10 million has been offered to a town or city that can make itself able to test autonomous cars.

Milton Keynes will be one of the first places to test driverless pods. Testing will reportedly begin in 2015 for the five-year project.

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