Possible hack for avoiding a traffic citation: Ride in a car with no driver.
A police officer in Mountain View, California, on Thursday pulled over a self-driving Google car for impeding traffic — but with no actual driver, there was no one to cite.
In a statement posted after the traffic stop, the police department said the officer noticed traffic backing up behind a slow moving car traveling at 24 mph in a 35 mph zone.
Under state law, Google Autonomous Vehicles are only allowed to travel up to 35 mph, which according to the police department was the speed limit of the street the self-driving car was stopped on Thursday.
The car features a bench style seat — no steering wheel, no pedals. Collectively, the prototypes have so far driven more than 1 million miles and according to Google have logged 11 minor accidents that have resulted in no injuries.
California requires that someone sit in the "driver's" seat of autonomous vehicles, but lawmakers are still working on laws for driverless cars. The Mountain View officer on Thursday quizzed the passengers about how the car was choosing speeds on certain roadways and educate them about state traffic laws.
Google, which is based in Mountain View and in regular contact with police regarding it self-driving cars, responded to the traffic stop on its own blog: "Driving too slowly? Bet humans don’t get pulled over for that too often."
The tech giant went on to explain that the distinctive bubble cars are capped at 25 mph for safety reasons.
"We want them to feel friendly and approachable, rather than zooming scarily through neighborhood streets," the company said. "Like this officer, people sometimes flag us down when they want to know more about our project."
Jason Wells is deputy news director for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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