STATES CHRONICLE – It’s old news that Google is working hard at testing its self-driving vehicles, but a recent incident showed just how much more road lays in front of them until the cars can hit the streets unsupervised.
Last week, a police officer pulled over a Google vehicle for driving too slow, noticing the lane it was travelling in was close to being traffic jammed. According to the information shared by the Mountain View Police Department, the self-driving car was travelling in the No. 3 lane, near Rengstorff Avenue at low speed.
After assessing the situation, the officer concluded no law was violated, but warned Google about potential safety risks. According to the Neighborhood Electric Vehicle Definition of the California Vehicle Code, Google’s self-driving vehicles are allowed to operate in California.
As long as the Google cars are equipped with a steering wheel, an accelerator and a brake pedal, the state of California allows the tech giant to test its cars on public roads. The cars also must have a person on board who can take over control should the car run amok.
So far, Google’s driverless cars were not to blame for any of the accidents they have been involved in, in spite of already reaching the impressive milestone of 1.2 million miles of self-driving. As stated on the Self-Driving Vehicle Project page on Google, one of the main purposes of the self-driving cars is reducing fatalities, particularly those caused by drunk driving.
At the same time, Google thinks that once the cars are completely functional and bug-free, the law might have to include some changes to welcome them on the streets. The incident was captured in a picture that has gone viral on the Internet this week.
Once the police officer realized there was no driver in the vehicle, he engaged with the operators to educate them about the dangers of impeding traffic by going too slow. The police officer said the Google car “was traveling at 24 miles per hour in a 35-mph zone.” He added that it’s simply not safe to drive “significantly below traffic speed,” because of the accidents that can results.
Part of the ongoing conversation around autonomous vehicles is also the question of driver responsibility: who is to be accounted responsible if the self-driving cars do get into accidents they could be blamed for?
Image Source: Ars Technica