A police officer in Mountain View, California–the city in which Google is headquartered–pulled over one of the company’s self-driving cars for driving too slow.
According to the Mountain View Police Department officer’s statement, Google’s autonomous prototype vehicle was traveling 11 miles per hour under the posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour.
The MVPD indicated in a written statement that while the officer did pull the slow moving Google car over, he realized upon closer inspection that it was a self-driving Google vehicle and as a result, it was driving within its rights as El Camino Real is a 35 mph zone and the Neighborhood Electric Vehicle Definition per 385.5 of the California Vehicle Code allows for such vehicle’s to lawfully operate on roadways with speed limits at or below 35 mph.
This afternoon a Mountain View Police Department traffic officer noticed traffic backing up behind a slow moving car traveling in the eastbound #3 lane on El Camino Real, near Rengstorff Ave. The car was traveling at 24 mph in a 35 mph zone. 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 per 22400(a) of the California Vehicle Code. The Google 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. In this case, it was lawful for the car to be traveling 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.
Google responded in a post to its Self Driving Car Project’s page on Google+ with a statement in which it points out that their prototype vehicles have had their speeds capped at 25 miles per hour “for safety reasons.”
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 neighborhood streets.
The company went on to iterate the fact that after 1.2 million miles of autonomous driving, their self-driving cars have “never been ticketed!”
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!