There are a lot of nagging, unanswered questions surrounding the public policy and moral implications behind autonomous cars. Among those is a simple-but-important question about speed, and whether the self-driving Google Car, for example, will adhere to posted speed limits.
In an interview with Reuters, Google’s Dmitri Dolgov explains that yes, the Google Car will follow the legal speed limit…most of the time. But as a number of studies (and common sense) can tell you, sometimes going the speed limit is more dangerous than speeding. Because of this, Dolgov says the Google car will be able to exceed the speed limit by as much as 10 MPH…but only if absolutely necessary.
Google has already shown how its complicated algorithm allows its self-driving cars to navigate even the busiest urban streets, and to date more than 500,000 miles of safe, hands-free driving have been accomplished. That’s with the modified Lexus and Toyota Prius test cars though; the actual Roush-built Google Car is limited to just 25 MPH, so speeding isn’t a thing of consequence for now.
How will other, more traditional automakers answer the speeding question? Will they leave the speed up to the car itself, or allow the driver set the pace? Ideally, one day driverless cars could allow us to travel at much faster speeds with a much higher degree of safety than ever thought possible with human hands guiding the wheel. For now though, 10 MPH above the posted limit sounds like a fair start. In Texas, that means your Google Car could go as fast as 95 MPH if conditions warrant.
Is the search engine giant going to be ready for those kinds of speeds?