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SAN FRANCISCO - A Google self-driving car was pulled over by a police officer for driving too slowly Thursday. Which begs the future-shock question: Who gets the ticket, the passenger or the car?
In this instance, as reported by USA TODAY's Road Warrior Voices blog, no ticket was issued by the Mountain View, Calif., motorcycle cop, who after talking to the Google employee out testing the vehicle determined no laws were broken.
Google's pod-like autonomous vehicle, which has recently started circulating both near the company's Silicon Valley headquarters as well as in Austin, Texas, is capable of driving itself at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour. The reason for the stop was that the car was driving too slowly at 24 mph on a street with a 35 mph limit.
According to a post on Mountain View's police blog, "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."
Google's self-driving car project has been testing Lexus SUV's laden with technology since 2008, and executives have repeatedly said their aim is to introduce the vehicles to the public within the next five years. Google's autonomous cars have been in more than a dozen accidents over the years, but according to data provided to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, in each case the fender benders were the fault of the humans in the offending vehicles.
Google's blog post about this encounter with the law took pride in the fleet's still-clear record.
"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," it said. "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!"
Follow USA TODAY tech reporter Marco della Cava on Twitter @marcodellacava.