Police pull over Google self-driving car for driving too slow

By midian182 · 36 replies
Nov 13, 2015
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  1. As an increasing number of self-driving cars are tested on US roads, more questions are being asked about the safety of these vehicles and if there’s a chance that they may drive too fast. It seems that now, however, the problem may be that some of these cars aren't driving fast enough, as a California police officer pulled over one of Google’s prototype vehicles yesterday for driving so slowly it was backing up traffic.

    “Driving too slowly? Bet humans don’t get pulled over for that too often,” the Google car team wrote in a post. “We’ve capped the speed of our prototype vehicles at 25 mph for safety reasons.”

    The incident took place on an eastbound road on El Camino Real in Mountain View, California, home of Google’s headquarters and where it has been testing its fleet of prototype autonomous vehicles over the last few months. The officer approached the car after he noticed it was travelling at 24mph in a 35mph zone, violating California Vehicle Code 22400 (a), which prohibits anyone from impeding or blocking the movement of traffic by driving too slowly.

    The Mountain View Police Department, which it says has regular meetings with Google to ensure that the vehicles are being operated safely, said: “as the officer approached the slow moving car he realized 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."

    The same California code does make an exception for some slow-moving vehicles, where “the reduced speed is necessary for safe operation, because of a grade, or in compliance with law."

    Google's self-driving cars operate under the Neighborhood Electric Vehicle Definition per 385.5 of the California Vehicle Code and can only be operated on roadways with speed limits at or under 35 mph. The road where it was pulled over has a 35 mph limit, so it was lawful for the car to be travelling on it.

    The company pointed out that while its cars do get pulled over from curious bystanders, they’ve yet to be reprimanded by law-enforcement officials. “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!”

    The incident brings up the question of who would get a ticket if a self-driving car did commit a traffic violation, and how would one of these vehicles know to pull over if a police car hailed it – assuming there were no passengers. In this instance there was an operator in the vehicle but, as regulations say a ticket belongs to the person in the driver’s seat, the DMV still has no law in place to say what happens if all the seats inside are empty. But Google did say that it would cover the cost of the ticket if one of its vehicles did break the law.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,336   +1,985

    That poor car would NEVER survive the beltway around Atlanta!
  3. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,736   +3,757

    “We’ve capped the speed of our prototype vehicles at 25 mph for safety reasons.”

    Because creating traffic hazards is safe.
    TheDreams, pwrjunky and Adhmuz like this.
  4. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,736   +3,757

    Familiar with the Autobahn of the South, I see.

    I estimate said car would survive all of a quarter mile before being obliterated by a properly paced semi.
  5. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    How did the car know to stop when the fuzz pulled in behind it and turned on the siren, did an occupant take over and how much was the fine?
  6. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,736   +3,757

    It was stopped the same way any super-pretentious techno car is stopped: It was forced off the road, set on fire, and its occupants chastised.
  7. Adhmuz

    Adhmuz TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,828   +633

    "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!” "

    Please add average in there for human equivalent, I know people who do half a million miles a YEAR, truck driver, couriers, ect, that would equate to 4.5 million miles in 90 years. Even myself, in my 8 years driving have done close to half a million kilometers, or 300 000 miles, on two cars. At this rate I'd almost double your "1.2 million miles" by the age of 76. And who drives for 90 years in the first place? That would suggest driving from the age of 16 to 106, I don't know about you but I don't see that many 90 year old's behind the wheel let alone 100 year old's.

    As for who gets the ticket, who ever is in the car? Even if your in the passenger seat, as long as there is no "driver" the ticket should land on the next person in the car. Granted Autonomous vehicles aren't likely going to be braking any laws, the possibility is still there. Driving slowly is a good one, that causes more problems then people driving say 5 over the limit in most situations.
  8. alabama man

    alabama man TS Maniac Posts: 375   +241

    Buses go faster and you don't need to drive. Also train and taxi. When all cars are autonomous and go over 50mph might work but that won't happen as long as there are automakers and lobbyists.
  9. H3llion

    H3llion TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,377   +286

    going 10mph slower than the limit is a hazard? How?
    trgz likes this.
  10. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,736   +3,757

    Because the rest of the traffic moves between +0 and +10 of whatever the posted limit is, making the actual difference of the autonomous car -10 to -20 of the flow. It's the difference in speed-in particular slow cars impeding faster moving cars-that causes most accidents.

    I tell people over and over: traffic is a fluid. It behaves no differently than molecules of water in a stream. Significantly exceeding or under-pacing the flow makes the offending vehicle(s) hazardous to the surrounding motorists.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  11. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    Can't be. That kind of thing only goes on over here, unless of course you know how to bribe. :oops:
    I sidestepped a $50 traffic fine about two weeks ago by greasing the cops palm with $5, I kid you not.
  12. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,923   +756

    Exactly. Driving at the flow rate is suggested even in driver ed courses (or at least it used to be anyway) for safety reasons.
  13. Camikazi

    Camikazi TS Evangelist Posts: 925   +284

    I have been driving for 15 years now and I remember my driving instructor telling me that, they told me to follow the flow of traffic because a car going too slow is a danger. Going the speed limit is all well and good but when you are impeding traffic because of it you cause problems.
  14. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,736   +3,757

    Cheap cop.
  15. Tanstar

    Tanstar TS Evangelist Posts: 616   +176

    Until these test cars start testing at actually useful speeds, I wish Techspot wouldn't waste stories on them.
  16. B5S46M

    B5S46M TS Member

    No you don't. Half a million miles per year is driving on average 57 MPH 24 hours a day, all 365 days. Truckers are not allowed to drive more than 11 consecutive hours without at least 10 hours off in a 14 hour period. So the most they can drive per year is 4588 hours (11/21 of the year). That would be an average speed of 109 MPH. Again, no. At best you'll average no more than 1/2 of that, more likely 1/3. Truck drivers in the US driving cross country typically average 100,000 to 150,000 miles per year[/QUOTE]
  17. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    I'm not complaining. Most of these people come from impoverished backgrounds and don't earn a kings ransom so 5 bucks is 5 bucks. At least they get to drive about in flashy fast cars at work, state owned of course.
  18. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,736   +3,757

  19. 9Nails

    9Nails TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,215   +177

    Keep in mind that this is from the same State that requires trucks and vehicles towing trailers to go 55 MPH, in a normally 65+ MPH zone. California law makers aren't the brightest bulbs in the union. Sometimes they are slower than a Google Autonomous vehicle. :D
  20. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,736   +3,757

    As of this writing...

    Article on Firefox coming to iDevices: 1 comment
    Article on Google's new emotion detector: 4 comments
    Article on TomTom data for Uber drivers: 1 comment
    Article on YouTube Music exiting beta: 1 comment
    This article: 17 comments

    They know exactly what they're doing with these stories.
  21. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,304   +429

    Self driving cars...dumbest idea since the electric fork
  22. tonylukac

    tonylukac TS Evangelist Posts: 1,372   +69

    There is no minimum speed limit except on highways.
  23. Umm, how can you give the passenger a ticket if they're not the ones driving?
    That makes absolutely no sense at all.
    Just because there's no one to give the ticket to directly that you pass it on to the next available person.

    Oh look we've tracked down a thief to his home address. However as he's fled the vicinity we'll just arrest his roommate...

  24. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,724   +3,697

    Under a condition that a passenger can legally drive the car, they should be responsible for allowing any autonomous driving conditions. At this point in time anyone stupid enough to climb into an autonomous vehicle without a license, should also be held responsible much the same as driving without a license.
    Adhmuz likes this.
  25. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,304   +429

    Your post is Ludicrous

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