A Google car was pulled over by law enforcement after slowing down traffic, but was eventually allowed to continue its journey without receiving a ticket.
On Thursday, November 12, the autonomous vehicle was stopped by a police officer, as it was conducting one of its tests on a local public road, from Mountain View, California.
Apparently, the automobile was driving excessively slow, at 24 mph, although recommended speed in that area was of 35 mph. As a result, it was impeding traffic, and could’ve caused safety issues for other commuters.
While the vehicle was indeed steering and making decisions using its machine learning software, it must be noted that there were operators inside it. Regulation clearly specifies that humans supervise autonomous cars, while trial testing is being done on public roads.
As Mountain View Police Department representatives have declared, following the violation, no citation was eventually signed off.
Police officers simply warned Google employees that they should take into account other traffic participants, and respect speed limits corresponding to each area.
The problem however is that the car, which can carry 2 passengers, can’t currently surpass the speed of 25 mph. This is because prototype designers had wanted to give the prototype a more approachable and less threatening vibe, which wouldn’t have been possible while driving at a dazzling, frantic pace.
Therefore, it would’ve been impossible for it to actually reach the velocity that had been legally approved there.
The incident, which occurred on El Camino Real, close to Rengstorff Avenue, was reported on the blog maintained by Google’s Self-Driving Car Project members on Google Plus.
So far, ever since the tests have begun in May 2010, Google’s innovative vehicles have already completed 1.2 million miles of autonomous driving, corresponding to approximately 90 years of driving experience.
The 23 cars included in this endeavor have also traveled for around 1 million miles using manual mode, through which safety drivers are the ones accessing manual controls.
In spite of this staggering distance, project representatives are happy to report that the driverless cars are yet to receive a traffic ticket for violations on public roads.
Until present day, the car has been involved in 17 minor collisions, which resulted usually in rear-end damage, but no injuries or deaths. All the accidents were actually caused by other traffic participants, who had been distracted or failed to respect road traffic signs and regulations.
In recent months, developers have been working on ways to ensure that Google autonomous vehicles behave less like robots, and more like humans, so that other drivers can anticipate their moves more easily.
According to a study published by experts at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, these cars tend to be 5 times more accident-prone in comparison with ordinary human-controlled vehicles.
This is because drivers are much more flexible, and in practical situations some traffic laws are breached or followed only to some extent. In contrast, robotic vehicles always respect legislation, which makes their actions unnatural and hard to predict at times.
Image Source: Google Blog