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Based on the article Google's self-driving cars can now spot cyclists: Sensors can read hand signals and predict rider's behaviour, Google's self-driving cars can spot cyclists, cars, road signs, markings, traffic lights, and pedestrians.

How exactly does it identify pedestrians? Is it based on face recognition, shape, size, distance, infrared signature?

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The AI of the car uses sensor data to process all the data and classifies objects based on the size, shape and movement patterns. It can recognize surroundings from a 360 degree perspective by making predictions about vehicles, people and objects around it will move.

It can detect pedestrians, but as moving, column-shaped blurs of pixels, so it really cannot tell whether it's a rock or a crumpled piece of paper.

Google's self-driving car sees traffic

However it is programmed to determine certain patterns when a police officer has halted traffic or the car is being signaled to move forward.

Google's self-driving car determines when a police officer has halted traffic or when the car is being signaled to move forward

It also recognizes cyclists as objects outlined in red and can slow down to let the cyclist enter into a lane.

Google's self-driving car sees when a cyclist is trying to merge into a lane, the vehicle also knows to slow down and let the cyclist enter

Above images are provided by Chris Urmson who heads up Google's driverless car program.

Sources:

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    $\begingroup$ I see colorful pictures here, but nothing about 1) how they are generated and 2) how the car classifies what it sees. The "sources" are not suited to answer such questions, either. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Aug 12 '16 at 11:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Raphael The question is how car is recognizing the people, if you're interested how they're generated or how it classifies, it's a topic for another question. $\endgroup$ – kenorb Aug 12 '16 at 11:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Raphael These pictures are provided by Chris Urmson who's the project director. $\endgroup$ – kenorb Aug 12 '16 at 11:48

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