Google Car Stopped By Police For Driving Too Slow

Alexsandr Milewski was at the right place at the right time last Thursday to get this unusual photo of a Google Car being stopped by a minion of the law . This happened in MountainView, California, where Google has its headquarters. One version of the Google Car has no steering wheel and no pedals. It is not allowed on public roads and can only be operated on the roof at Google headquarters. The state of California requires any Google Car driven on public roads to be fitted with a steering wheel, an accelerator and a brake pedal and to have a real person on board to monitor the situation and take over control if the car’s computer runs amok.

The cars are registered as Neighborhood Electric Vehicles, a classification that permits battery electric cars weighing no more than 3000 lbs to drive on public roads with speed limits of 45 mph or less, according to Wikipedia. Google restricts its cars to a top speed of 25 mph for safety reasons. Milewski says in a Facebook post that he spoke with the (human) driver of the Google Car after he snapped this photo. Apparently the motorcycle cop had never encountered an NEV before and wanted to know why it was driving well below the posted speed limit.

According to Fusion, the Google Cars have been programmed to be extra careful on public roads. According to Google’s self-driving car FAQ: “The cars drive conservatively. For example, they pause 1.5 seconds after the light turns green at an intersection because many accidents happen during this time.” Where I live, the horns start blowing 0.027 seconds after the light turns green.

Later, Google took to Google+ (of course) to explain what happened. “Driving too slowly? Bet humans don’t get pulled over for that too often. We’ve capped the speed of our prototype vehicles at 25 mph for safety reasons. We want them to feel friendly and approachable, rather than zooming scarily through neighborhood streets.m 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!”

If you are in California and get stuck behind a slow moving white blog of a vehicle, it is either a Google Car or someone in a golf cart who just left the 19th hole at the local country club.


Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.