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New startup aims to teach self-driving cars to think, communicate [Video]

For years, consumers have been teased with news that self-driving cars may be hitting the market soon. But a new startup is looking to take the technology behind self-driving cars even further.

Drive.ai is an autonomous vehicle tech startup founded by former graduate students working in Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Lab. Using “deep learning” technology, the company is looking to make self-driving cars that react more like humans on the road – up to and including communicating with other drivers.

“Deep learning is the best enabling technology for self-driving cars,” Sameep Tandon, CEO and co-founder of Drive.ai, told Fortune. “You hear a lot about all these things on the car: the sensors, the cameras, the radar, and Lidar (light-sensitive radar). What we really need is the brains to make an autonomous car work safely and understand its environment.”

That’s right, these cars will be outfitted with sophisticated sensor arrays, computer and an LED sign to communicate with pedestrians and other drivers. The sign will be mounted on top of the car, signaling when it is safe to pass or cross in front of the vehicle. This is being promoted less as a means to communicate with other drivers – the cars will still use the traditional signals as with manned vehicles – and more of a way to interact with and assuage the fears of pedestrians, according to the New York Times.

“Most people’s first interaction with self-driving cars will not be as a rider, but more likely as a pedestrian crossing the street,” Carol Reiley, the co-founder and president of Drive.ai told the New York Times. “I think it is so important for everyone to trust this type of technology.”

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