Google's Self-Driving Car Busted For Driving Too Slow - InformationWeek

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11/13/2015
10:05 AM
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Google's Self-Driving Car Busted For Driving Too Slow

How do you ask a self-driving car if it knew how fast it was going? Google's autonomous vehicle and it operators find out the hard way in Mountain View.

Google, Tesla, Nissan: 6 Self-Driving Vehicles Cruising Our Way
Google, Tesla, Nissan: 6 Self-Driving Vehicles Cruising Our Way
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Google's self-driving cars have been involved in a few accidents since they have started to hit the road -- always due to real live human drivers -- but the company has chalked up a new violation in driving too slowly.

As the Mountain View Police Department noted on its blog on Nov. 12, an officer noticed traffic backing up behind a slow-moving car, which turned out to be none other than a Google autonomous car.

The officer stopped the car, which was traveling 24 mph in a 35 mph zone, 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.

The posting also noted the MVPD meets regularly with Google to ensure that their vehicles operate safely in the community.

(Image: Google)

(Image: Google)

Google self-driving cars operate under the Neighborhood Electric Vehicle Definition per 385.5 of the California Vehicle Code. They can only drive on roadways with speed limits at or under 35 mph, which means that the company was still in compliance with the law, according to the MVPD report.

The key to self-driving cars is software that can interpret all of a vehicle's sensors and learn to mimic the driving skills and experiences of the very best drivers.

Google is the current technology leader in this arena, according to a November 12 report from IHS Automotive that suggests the technology company has invested nearly $60 million so far in autonomous vehicle research and development, at a run rate of nearly $30 million per year. 

"Google is in a unique position to leverage adjacent technologies for developing self-driving car software," Egil Juliussen, senior research director at IHS Automotive and author of the report, wrote in the report. "And its strategy and goal is to provide the software and map infrastructure to allow mobility services to anyone -- via fleets of driverless cars -- within a decade or less."

The IHS report noted that, unlike traditional vehicle manufacturers, Google has the ability to leverage adjacent technologies and experience from its other projects and investments, including robotics, drones, and related technologies that help automotive operations, such as neural networks, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and machine vision.

IHS Automotive currently forecasts that nearly 12 million self-driving and driverless cars will be sold globally in 2035, a figure that would represent around 10% of total global light vehicle sales.

Google is far from the only company making inroads in autonomous vehicles. Nissan recently announced that it has begun testing its first prototype vehicle that demonstrates piloted driving on both highway and city roads in Japan.

[Read about Apple's Project Titan.]

Over in Europe, auto giant Daimler has already hit the highway, bringing an automated series-production truck to the A8 between Denkendorf and Stuttgart airport.

A survey of around 3,000 consumers in the US, China, and Germany that was released in September by McKinsey found that consumer interest in self-driving vehicles is high, as long as drivers have the option of taking the wheel when they want to.

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Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
12/3/2015 | 7:38:13 AM
Re: There is no such thing as a driverless fine
Broadway, 

There is probably a reason why Google is testing the car there. Going over the speed limit is not good either, so I would say that everyone there was wrong. In Sweden, Volvo has been testing its autonomous cars for a while now in normal driving conditions. However, the cars reach the normal speed of the lanes.

Volvo is going to have 100 test cars at a time. Now imagine if Google would test 100 of its cars at 25mph. :D That would be a real problem! 

-Susan 

 
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
11/23/2015 | 12:48:25 PM
Re: Pending Review

@Pedro very true. These vehicles should remain in bounds of some pre defined areas. We cannot let them go loose where on spot decisions are required and lives are at stake. Secondly your point regarding engineering issues are one to be looked after before these vehicles are launched for general public

PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
11/23/2015 | 12:39:47 PM
Re: Pending Review
@ Nomii. I think such cars have a market on short distance and more predictable roads.  I can see such cars helping seniors move on a retirement home, moving people around a theme park, etc.  I think there will be a long way before we see such cars on the real roads.  Right, now, Google is building expectation and hype about their products.  I think Google needs to work on other areas because even thought the cars are ready; other non-engineering factors will impact their release.
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
11/22/2015 | 10:12:27 PM
Re: There is no such thing as a driverless fine
Susan, if that's the case, I wonder again why they allow these prototypes on real roads. Or keep them in mall roads at least. Or neighborhood roads with 25 mph speed limits. In 35 mph zones, human drivers do 50. Where I come from, they drive in the shoulder or in the incoming traffic lane to pass slow drivers. The driverless cars are not the risk going at that speed, but at that speed, they are bound to cause human drivers to do stupid stuff.
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
11/22/2015 | 10:07:18 PM
Re: Compliance with the law
mak63, I would think that the police can apply similar laws whereever they want to. If you're in a 35 mph zone doing 12, they have it within their discretion to pull you over on suspicion. They can then breathalizer you, or search your car for drugs and booze. Or check if you were texting. 
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
11/22/2015 | 9:01:49 AM
Re: There is no such thing as a driverless fine
You're welcome, Angel. :) It's good to know what the max speed of Google's test car is before judging too quickly. -Susan
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
11/20/2015 | 11:39:35 PM
Re: Compliance with the law
@Broadway0474 Yes, I was familiar with this law. It's good to refresh my memory about the traffic laws now and then though. Does the same principle apply to a 35 mph zone?
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
11/20/2015 | 7:36:24 PM
Re: There is no such thing as a driverless fine
@ Susan, Thanks for reminding me that the max speed of 24mph is for these test cars. In that case, I think 24mph spped limit is acceotable.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
11/20/2015 | 7:33:51 PM
Re: Compliance with the law
@ Broadway, I agree with that traffic law and couldn't have worded it any better.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
11/20/2015 | 12:36:51 AM
Re: There is no such thing as a driverless fine
Angel, 24mph is the max speed of the Goggle prototype. For safety reasons it's better for Google to test the car like this. Everyone should understand this is a test car. -Susan
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