US police pulled over one of Google’s self-driving cars this week for driving slowly, but there was no traffic infraction.
The vehicle was caught driving 24 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone, according to a police report, and was pulled over after a traffic officer noticed traffic backing up behind it.
The officer realised the situation and didn’t issue a ticket. Though, at this point it is not clear who should have been issued a ticket if a self-driving car does commit a serious violation.
Several concerned laws currently find the person in the driver’s seat to be responsible, but the laws are still ambiguous as to what should be done when the driver seat is empty.
“As the officer approached the slow moving car he realized it was a Google autonomous vehicle,” Mountain View Police Department wrote in a blog post. “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 22400(a) of the California Vehicle Code.”
Facebook user Zandr Milewski managed to take this photo of the rather bizarre incident.
In its own blog, Google said: “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.”
But it added that, in 1.2 million miles of autonomous driving tests, “we’re proud to say we’ve never been ticketed”.
In September, Google said it was working to make its cars drive “more humanistically” following complaints that they were too polite.
Google’s driverless vehicles are currently out on the streets of Mountain View and Austin, Texas. Its fleet includes modified Lexus SUVs and a bubble-shaped prototype, which was the model pulled over by the traffic officer.
The company says there are “safety drivers” on board all vehicles — “for now.”