Google car pulled over to driving too slow

40km/h robot car warned by police for holding up traffic

Google’s self-driving car in Mountain View, California. The driverless car observes traffic laws to the letter.   Photograph: Gordon De Los Santos The New York Times.

Google’s self-driving car in Mountain View, California. The driverless car observes traffic laws to the letter. Photograph: Gordon De Los Santos The New York Times.

 

One of Google’s experimental self-driving cars, the ones which looks rather like a motorised koala bear, has been pulled over and cautioned for impeding the flow of traffic.

The car, which Google has limited to a 40km/h maximum speed, was stopped by police in Mountain View, California, when it was observed travelling at 39km/h along a road with a 56km/h speed limit.

According to a statement from the Mountain View police department: “This afternoon a Mountain View Police Department traffic officer noticed traffic backing up behind a slow moving car travelling in the eastbound lane on El Camino Real. The car was travelling at 24mph in a 35mph zone. As the officer approached the slow moving car he realised it was a Google Autonomous Vehicle.

The officer stopped the car and made contact with the operators to learn more about how the car was choosing speeds along certain roadways and to educate the operators about impeding traffic per the California Highway Code.

“The Google self-driving cars operate under the Neighbourhood Electric Vehicle Definition of the California Vehicle Code and can only be operated on roadways with speed limits at or under 35 mph. In this case, it was lawful for the car to be travelling on the street as El Camino Real is rated at 35 mph. The Mountain View Police Department meets regularly with Google to ensure that their vehicles operate safely in our community.”

Made light

No ticket was issued, and Google made light of its robot car’s minor brush with the law: “Driving too slowly? Bet humans don’t get pulled over for that too often. We’ve capped the speed of our prototype vehicles at 25mph for safety reasons. We want them to feel friendly and approachable, rather than zooming scarily through neighbourhood streets.

“Like this officer, people sometimes flag us down when they want to know more about our project. After 1.2 million miles of autonomous driving (that’s the human equivalent of 90 years of driving experience), we’re proud to say we’ve never been ticketed.”