Google files patent for emergency service-sensing technology in self-driving cars

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Tech giant Google has submitted a patent for technology that will allow its self-driving vehicles to recognise emergency service lights and act accordingly.

According to a US patent filing, the cars will feature scanners that will be able to detect and identify light sources, colours and flashing patterns.

The system will work in a number of steps. After registering the light, it will ascertain whether it is moving – on a car – or stationary, like a streetlight.

The next step will be to determine if the light is flashing. If it is, the Google car will identify the light colours and flashing pattern, before linking them to the appropriate emergency service, and even offence.

Once it has completed this process – within a matter of seconds – the autonomous vehicle will alert the vehicle's occupants and act appropriately, either pulling aside for an ambulance to pass, or coming to a complete stop for the police.