back to article California cops pull over Google car for driving too SLOWLY

Google is very proud of its perfect safety record when it comes to automated vehicles, but that didn't stop one of its jelly-mold cars getting pulled over on Thursday. Police pull over Google car License and product key please "A Mountain View Police Department traffic officer noticed traffic backing up behind a slow …

  1. Boo Radley

    Where I live in Texas, the cars that are travelling well under the speed limit are usually either carrying large quantities of illegal substances, or illegal aliens. Sometimes both - so cops love to stop slow moving vehicles.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      I think that is generally true. I know more than one person who has been pulled over for driving at the speed limit late a night on an empty road. They get breathalysed, enjoy the joke, and go on their way.

  2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    I'll betcha a dollar that...

    I'll betcha a dollar that this incident reminded the clever Google coders that they actually forgot to program in any concept of the Googly AI pulling over when the police so direct.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    2. BillG Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: I'll betcha a dollar that...

      I recall a study done 20 years ago of auto accidents that determined that speed doesn't cause accidents, it's the DIFFERENCE in speed. So if everyone is driving 24mph, or 50mph, that's safe. But if you have everyone driving 50mph and one car doing 35, that difference in speed is a danger. That's why the left lane is so strictly enforced on the Autobahn.

      If one car is doing 60mph and it's tapped or sideswipped by another doing 62, that's not too bad because it's effectively a 2mph accident. But think of the same situation when the cars are 40mph and 25mph, that's the equivalent of a car doing 15mph hitting or sideswiping a stationary object.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: I'll betcha a dollar that...

        Or worse, a "ghost driver": someone who manages to go the wrong way down a motorway and ends up making a head-on collision with both cars at speed. Now you have two cars crashing at the sum of their respective speeds. Even with crumple zones, a ghost driver collision is tough to live through simply due to the sheer forces involved.

        1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
          Pint

          @Charlie 9

          "Now you have two cars crashing at the sum of their respective speeds..."

          That's not how Physics works. Summing non-relativistic speeds, which are squared in the energy formula, would lead to creation of energy from nothing.

          If two cars (same mass) doing 100 kmh crash head-on, that's basically the same as each hitting a brick wall at the very same, non-summed, 100 kmh.

          Using bold print and being wrong must be embarrassing.

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
            Facepalm

            No you!

            If two cars (same mass) doing 100 kmh crash head-on, that's basically the same as each hitting a brick wall at the very same, non-summed, 100 kmh.

            Not entirely surprisingly, this is not exactly the case in the reference system of the passenger.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @JeffyPoooh

            Apparently he means "closing speed" which is the speed at which the cars approach one another. So that if two cars each going at 60mph approach each other, their closing speed is 120mph.

            The point he is making is really very simple.

            1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

              Re: @JeffyPoooh

              @AC

              Putting it simply, you do NOT sum the speeds because of the speed squared function to energy. You'd be creating energy if you can sum speeds. So don't.

              You can sum the masses. Two cars head-on, twice the energy, but distributed between two cars. Indistinguishable to each car hitting a brick wall.

              This isn't quite as simple, but has the advantage of being correct.

          3. DaLo

            Re: @Charlie 9

            As JeffyPoooh said...

            2 identical cars (Car1 and Car2)

            From the point of view of Car1 and the occupants...

            Car1 hitting Car2 both travelling in opposite directions, both doing 50mph =

            Car1 hitting Car2 when Car2 is in an immovable state and only Car1 is doing 50mph

            It is not the same as Car1 doing 100mph into an immovable Car2.

            Car2 would be a lot better off in situation 2.

            See here: http://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/45578/is-two-cars-colliding-at-50mph-the-same-as-one-car-colliding-into-a-wall-at-100 and here

            You Tube: Mythbusters - Car crash force

            1. Turtle

              @DaLo

              At your link "http://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/45578/is-two-cars-colliding-at-50mph-the-same-as-one-car-colliding-into-a-wall-at-100" we read the following note at the end of the thread:

              "Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site."

              So, not terribly helpful.

              1. DaLo
                Facepalm

                Re: @DaLo

                "So, not terribly helpful."

                Really, do you understand the comments made, did you read them.? For a simple but useful explanation read the point about the shroud, for more technical information read about the energy lost.

            2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: @Charlie 9

              @DaLo

              Your discussion includes "an immovable Car2" which is a VERY poor choice of an example.

              Do you mean that Car 2 is parked but ready to move with impact, or it's fixed in place like a 'brick wall' ? Does it have crumple zones? Is it in Neutral, or Park? How good are the tires on Car 2?

              Makes your entire argument unclear.

          4. Tom 13

            @JeffyPoooh Silver badge

            It must be embarrassing to correct someone and discover the other person actually had the physics correct.

            In the case of a car impacting a wall the energy of the wall is 0. The car hits at m(100)^2. and deforms both itself and the wall according to the energy distributions.

            In the case of two cars moving in opposite directions colliding both vehicles have momentum of m(100)2 relative to their crash point. So the energy deforming the cars is m(100)^2 + m(100)^2 which is in fact twice the destructive energy as the wall. Which is exactly what the Charlie said and what police reports record in such incidents.

            1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: @JeffyPoooh Silver badge

              @Tom 13

              You're confused. The original issue was with the phrase "sum of speeds".

              With two cars in a head-on collision, you may SUM THE MASS, not sum the speeds.

              So with two cars, each brings their own energy. But it's distributed between the TWO cars. Indistinguishable from each hitting a brick wall.

              This is high school Physics.

              If you know the Physics, then perhaps it's a reading comprehension problem on your part.

        2. micheal

          Re: I'll betcha a dollar that...

          the sum of their respective speeds.

          Mythbusters proved this is not the case, and Jamie had to admit that he thought this too before testing

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: I'll betcha a dollar that...

            I'd assumed this too , and I'd like to thank Jeffypooh for eduycating me. Its simple when you think about it.

            also the "closing spped" may be correct at (sum of) but its a misleading and useless term given the force of the impact is the same as at (sum of /2 )

            1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

              Re: I'll betcha a dollar that...

              The following thought experiment illustrates the principle: Imagine two identical cars colliding head on, each doing 50MPH. Most people will understand that immediately following the impact, both cars will be stationary with their front bumpers touching over the point of impact. Now imagine the same situation, but this time immediately before the cars collide, a brick wall suddenly appears at the exact point of impact. As far as the effect on the cars is concerned, there is no change to the previous situation - i.e. their front bumpers have become instantly stationary at the point of impact. The wall could be solid or made of paper and the situation would remain the same.

              Colliding with an identical stationary car (with its brakes off) is however the same as both cars colliding with a very solid wall at half the speed. After the collision, both vehicles will be moving at half the speed the colliding vehicle had been travelling.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'll betcha a dollar that...

        If one car is doing 60mph and it's tapped or sideswipped by another doing 62, that's not too bad because it's effectively a 2mph accident.

        Until you hit the planks, at which point it suddenly DOES become a 60mph accident with parts flying all over everyhwere.

      3. Fonant

        Re: I'll betcha a dollar that...

        Yes the danger is caused by the DIFFERENCE in speed. But on a road there are lots of things doing zero mph, perhaps some doing 3mph (pedestrians) and 12mph (cyclists), and other vehicles coming the other way (if the same mass as your car, effectively doing zero mph if you crash into them, if heavier, then doing a negative speed!). Crash into a pedestrian at 60mph and as a car occupant you almost certainly won't get hurt, but the pedestrian will not survive.

        The steady-state in any crash is all vehicles stopped and stationary. It is the DIFFERENCE in speed between the speed before the crash and this zero speed that the danger varies with. Not only because of the energy involved, but also because our reaction times are fixed - slower driving gives more time for crashes to be avoided.

      4. Tom 13

        @BillG

        It's not just the speed differential at issue, important as that is. To use your example if it's posted at 35 and everyone is doing 5 over except the one car at 25, all those cars trying to do 40 are going to attempt to pass the car doing 25. While passing is a low risk move, it's not a no risk move and it IS higher than simply following at a natural interval. Now, it is certainly safer to play Russian Roulette with a 1000 chamber pistol than one with 6, but it still isn't safe. Most people don't think about how apt this comparison really is because they don't think of cars the same way they do guns. But the physics works out that a car doing 55 and a bullet coming out of a gun have about the same momentum. I always remember this because some years ago I read an article in a car magazine entitled "Beretta vs Beretta". The gun manufacturer was suing the car maker for trademark infringement so they took 10 characteristics for the products and compared them. It was a very tongue in cheek article where they noted the gun had better acceleration but the car had a longer range and they slid the gun along the floor trying to bank it in the hallway to get a measure of cornering. Except for the momentum bit where they showed the calculations.

  4. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Pirate

    If Google wants to limit the speed of their test cars/prototypes to 25 mph....

    Why send them out into higher speed limit roads, especially for more than a block or two?

    1. Doctor_Wibble

      Re: If Google wants to limit the speed of their test cars/prototypes to 25 mph....

      This being the most obvious question - it's not like google don't have any map capability and how is it that deliberately sending out a slow-moving vehicle on to a minimum-speed road is not an automatic and non-forgiveable bookemdanno*? Do they have people programming the car that don't know the highway code**?

      What happens the next time, will the speed cap be removed and will we finally get satnav data that is actually valid for the current road, or will there just be a continued exemption for the robot car because it's a machine and therefore can't be sued if anyone dies as a result of the 3-mile tailback? Remember that by approaching the car and speaking to the occupant instead of the driver, you are accepting the terms and conditions clearly displayed on the plaque on the boot.

      * or bookemponch as per pic

      ** whatever the US equivalent

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: If Google wants to limit the speed of their test cars/prototypes to 25 mph....

        "a minimum-speed road"

        I remember learning about minimum speed road sign during my learning of the highway code but in 40 years of driving, sometimes up to 80,000 miles per year, I don't think I've ever seen one out in the wild.

        But there is the problem. There are no, or at least very, very few, minimum speed limits. There are woolly "rules" about not driving "too slowly" but who decides what is too slow? Some random Police officer? What if I challenge it in court? What if my driving experience tells my that 20mph in a 40mph limit is the safe maximum (wet, fog, ice, whatever) but PC Plod who putters around town in a patrol car rarely going above 30mph thinks it's safe to do 30mph so pulls me over?

        1. Demosthenese

          Re: If Google wants to limit the speed of their test cars/prototypes to 25 mph....

          The Mersey tunnels have minimum speed limits.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: If Google wants to limit the speed of their test cars/prototypes to 25 mph....

          > I remember learning about minimum speed road sign during my learning of the highway code but in 40 years of driving, sometimes up to 80,000 miles per year, I don't think I've ever seen one out in the wild.

          Whereabouts? In Europe, every motorway has a minimum speed, though they're not posted--you need to know it from the local traffic code. Alpine tunnels also have minimum speeds, as do multilane mountain roads, when a slow lane is present. The sign is a blue circle with the minimum speed in white letters inside.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: If Google wants to limit the speed of their test cars/prototypes to 25 mph....

            "The sign is a blue circle with the minimum speed in white letters inside."

            Same signs are used in the UK both from my 40 years ago memory and a quick check online. I've just never seen one in real life. There's nothing in the UK law about minimum speeds other than that very rare minimum speed sign. I just looked. Here is a decent generalisation of the situation in the UK. TL;DR version is "drive sensibly to the traffic situation and don't go faster than the posted limit."

            An interesting one though is the A1 Western By-Pass around Gateshead and Newcastle. A new sign had to be created to ban slow traffic during rush hour. A black JCB on white background in a red circle with a time range below it. It means no slow moving traffic allowed, eg tractors, JCBs and the like.

          2. DaLo

            Re: If Google wants to limit the speed of their test cars/prototypes to 25 mph....

            "Whereabouts? In Europe, every motorway has a minimum speed"

            Sorry AC, but you are wrong. The UK, for one, does not have a minimum speed limit on a motorway.

            1. Chris Parsons

              Re: If Google wants to limit the speed of their test cars/prototypes to 25 mph....

              Amused that some ignorant tw@ chose to downvote you!

            2. PassingStrange

              Re: If Google wants to limit the speed of their test cars/prototypes to 25 mph....

              "Sorry AC, but you are wrong. The UK, for one, does not have a minimum speed limit on a motorway."

              Effectively it does. It's merely not explicit.

              It's an offence under UK law to drive "without due consideration" to other road users. Pottering along at some obstructively low pace, without a valid and sensible reason for doing so, would most certainly be likely to earn you penalty points if it came to court.

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: If Google wants to limit the speed of their test cars/prototypes to 25 mph....

          In most civilised countries it's:

          Actual speed limit is determined by the greater of:

          A: the posted speed limit

          B: speed at which you can pull up in the distance of clear road ahead of you (halved if no center line)

          Which means that 20mph on a motorway in heavy fog (sub 10 foot visibilty) is dangerously fast. I've been in fogs where you couldn't even see to the end of the bonnet and you effectively have to stop.

          FWIW: 30mph is too fast in a residential or urban area, based on pedestrian survivability stats. 20mph is about right (and in many urban areas you'd have trouble maintaining that speed anyway)

          That said: California has laws on the books about holding up traffic. Once you get a few cars building up behind you, you either speed up or pull over to let them past.

      2. Fink-Nottle

        Re: If Google wants to limit the speed of their test cars/prototypes to 25 mph....

        > Do they have people programming the car that don't know the highway code**?

        Quite the opposite, max_speed := 25 ; max_speed_limit := 35 ; is fine.

        Google cars are classed as Neighborhood Electric Vehicles. As the link shows, California DMV stipulates that NEVs are not permitted to drive over 25 mph, but they are they permitted to operate on a roadway with a speed limit of 35 mph.

        (When did Jon and Ponch get so young. When I watched CHiPs they were old men!)

      3. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Do they have people programming the car that don't know the highway code

        Maybe you forget the speed limit is the MAXIMUM speed not the TARGET speed.

        How slow is too slow is up for interpretation barring any set rules.

  5. Adam Azarchs

    No big deal

    That road has 3 lanes in each direction. Go around.

    1. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: No big deal

      > noticed traffic backing up behind a slow moving car traveling in the eastbound #3 lane

      If cars were backing up then that mustn't have been possible (eg. Other lanes having high volume of much faster moving traffic.)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No big deal

      I may be mistaken, but under the California Vehicle Code, they exercise a "prefer the right" policy. They want vehicles to keep to the right lanes unless they're passing, avoiding an obstacle, or driving faster than the cars on the right and therefore not blocking the way yourself. If you drive slower or in some other way that you block the way for other vehicles to get around you, that's considered obstructing the passing lane, which I think is what got the Google car in trouble. Barring an obstacle, the Google car is supposed to keep right.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No big deal

        It probably was on the right. You aren't visualizing the kind of traffic LA really has.

        A 35mph zone in LA will have cars going mostly 45mph+ (except when gridlocked of course). So a 25mph car, even on the right, is going to be a major hazard.

        Book 'em!

        1. JoeF

          Re: No big deal

          I guess you missed that this wasn't in LA, but in Silly Valley, in Mountain View.

          Granted, traffic on El Camino Real there is as bad as any LA traffic... My speeds on LA freeways are often less than 25mph.

        2. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: No big deal

          Crikey.. some years ago, I was heading down I-5 in a motorhome. Right lane, keeping up with traffic. Cars were passing me by using the shoulder. I looked down at the speedometer and realized I was doing 80mph and the speed limit was 60mph. Needed a change of underwear after that experience.

        3. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

          Re: No big deal

          @Big John: So you're saying LA traffic management is totally screwed?

          Either the most suitable* speed for the road is 35mph, and the cops are negligent for not fining everyone doing 45, or the planners are negligent for setting a stupid speed limit.

          * I didn't say "safe" because the issue is throughput. The number of vehicles per minute peaks (maybe around 18mph, depending on braking distances and driver reaction times), so the individual drivers' desire to arrive quickly is in conflict with the city's desire to maximise throughput. Insert reference to "tragedy of the commons" here.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: No big deal

            >"So you're saying LA traffic management is totally screwed?"

            No. I figure the typical policy is to set speeds a little lower than ideal, knowing people will go a little faster. The cops won't mind this; Their speeding tickets will be for larger violations this way, should they have reason to stop a speeder.

            I'm sure this is all codified in some urban planning tome somewhere...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: No big deal

              A 35mph zone in LA will have cars going mostly 45mph+ (except when gridlocked of course). So a 25mph car, even on the right, is going to be a major hazard.

              For normal people:

              A 55 km/h zone (i.e. a must-go > 55 km/h) in LA will have cars going mostly 70 km/h+ (except when gridlocked of course). So a 40 km/h car, even on the right, is going to be a major hazard.

            2. Quip

              I'm sure this is all codified in some urban planning tome somewhere...

              Google for '85th percentile speed'

              eg

              http://www.standardsforhighways.co.uk/dmrb/vol5/section1/ta2281.pdf

            3. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: No big deal

              It's far more complicated than that.

              30-40 years studies of the same stretches of road have shown that arbitrarily low/high speed limits will result in drivers ignoring them and driving at what they consider safe. You can get away with -5+10 but once you go past that the limits get ignored.

              Also that the more paint you add, the faster the traffic goes, ditto traffic lights (green lights add 3mph), barriers (uk pedestrian ones add 4mph) and parking restrictions (yellow lines add 2mph). If you want to slow down traffic you remove all the "safety" stuff and let drivers be nervous.

              Basically the more "segregated" drivers feel they are from the environs, the safer they feel and the faster they go.

              This is why London is in the process of removing virtually all the forests of pedestrian guide barriers (they're not safety barriers, the stuff folds up like wet cardboard if hit by a car and kills cyclists caught between it and cars) and as much yellow paint as it can. This is being thwarted by councils trying frantically to (illegally) bolster their parking revenue to make up for declining govt funding.

              Hopefully greater vehicle automation will mean that 20mph limits are the norm in non-arterial roads and parking fines end up centralised like camera ones have been due to systemic abuse. It all liklihood a lower speed limit and fewer twats in the control seat will result in mean travel speeds increasing.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: No big deal

                Odd. I once went to a less-developed Asian country and note that many roads are undermarked, yet people there drive like the Dickens anyway. About the only places where you see some semblance of decorum happen to be the well-marked motorways.

      2. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: No big deal

        "Barring an obstacle, the Google car is supposed to keep right."

        California counts lanes starting from the center of the road. I can't comment specifically on where that car was pulled over, I don't know the area, but #3 means there were 2 lanes left of the car in question.

        On the other hand, slow-moving vehicles in the right lane cause backups due to people intending to exit the highway.

      3. Old Used Programmer

        Re: No big deal

        There is also a law about "impeding traffic". If you have 5 cars backed up behind you, you are required to get out of the way. In a case like this, that would mean getting off that street.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Klingt reichlich erfunden

          If you have 5 cars backed up behind you, you are required to get out of the way.

          Okay. So how do you count those cars? Unless you have a video feed from the coppercopter on your dashboard?

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Klingt reichlich erfunden

            You're supposed to start reacting when you see two or three cars in your rear-view, which you usually CAN see. Five's simply the limit upon which the police can intervene.

            1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: Klingt reichlich erfunden

              You're supposed to start reacting when you see two or three cars in your rear-view

              I will post a reaction meme over my facebook account accessible via the built-in entertainment facilities...

            2. Mark 65

              Re: Klingt reichlich erfunden

              So...if you're going over the limit/at the limit and you get 5 Audi drivers tailgating you 1 inch from the rear bumper does it really mean you need to speed up or get off the road because that just sounds retarded?

  6. ma1010 Silver badge
    WTF?

    Testing?

    What good is a car that won't go over 25 MPH? In most of California these days, the newer neighborhoods are residential neighborhoods that are all 25 MPH, and then you leave there and get on a road that generally has a speed limit of 40-55 to travel between those neighborhoods or into business areas.

    And the point the other poster made about pulling over on police demand is probably very valid, too! They need an "I've been lit up by the cops" sensor on the car.

    Looks like Google has a lot of work to do yet.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Testing?

      "They need an "I've been lit up by the cops" sensor on the car."

      I wonder what reactions have been built in for getting out of the way of an emergency vehicle on a job? I hope it's something better that "slam on the brakes" that I see from far too many meatbag drivers. In particular, an oncoming ambulance (say) trying to pass a line of traffic when I can stop and let him cross over into my (on coming) lane to pass the pedestrian refuge or whatever.

      A sensible human driver can almost instantly see and discard.accept many option on the best way to get out of the way of emergency vehicles. I'd really like to see what a computer controlled car might do in those many and varied situations. I could see it working really well if the majority of vehicles are on auto and the emergency vehicle can "tell" them well in advance to clear the way, but until then...

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Testing?

        A sensible human driver can almost instantly see and discard.accept many option on the best way to get out of the way of emergency vehicles. I'd really like to see what a computer controlled car might do in those many and varied situations.

        Pretty sure that the machine can do better and more "360° awareness" planning and evalution than the meatsack. Maybe not yet, but then pretty soon.

        Humans tend to overrate their abilities. Some go so far as to credit consciousness with "special sauce" qualities instead of the intermittent stuttering introspective debugging review that it is.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Adam 1 Silver badge

    > We want them to feel friendly and approachable

    25 mph is not "approachable". If you do approach something at that speed, you will end up with a several month hospital stay (if you're lucky). There may be important technical reasons to limit the speed but if that is the case, keep them off high speed roads until they are ready.

  9. JustNiz

    >> "zooming scarily through neighborhood streets"

    35mph is now zooming scarily? Fucking tree hugging muppets.

    What IS scary and furthermore downright dangerous is some idiot impeding traffic by unnecessarily doing at least 10mph slower than the speed limit everyone else.

    Speed itself is not dangerous, its relative speed that is dangerous.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hear hear!

      Every driver in LA becomes highly skilled at driving fast without accidents. It's not considered speeding by most people, and even the cops usually (except on the residential streets).

      The one thing that screws it up are interlopers from elsewhere who get afeared by the fast speeds and choke up on the throttle.

      Cops in LA always pull over extra-slow drivers, to reduce road rage and maybe save a life.

      1. Old Used Programmer

        An aunt of mine was once ticketed for impeding traffic in LA (she had recently moved there). She was doing 35 mph in a 25 mph zone. Everyone else was going faster. One hopes that, relatively soon, Google will develop a "moving with the flow of traffic and to Hell with speed limits" algorithm.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          She was doing 35 mph in a 25 mph zone.

          Don't do this in Yurop unless you want to have a long conversation with officials.

        2. 9Rune5

          Calibration

          "She was doing 35 mph in a 25 mph zone"

          How can you be so sure?

          One of my cars is 10% off. I have to set the cruise control to 78 kph if I want my GPS to show 70 kph. And other cars drive slower still... (I will eventually put on slightly bigger wheels which will help the accuracy somewhat)

      2. fruitoftheloon
        Happy

        @Big John

        Big John,

        (Bear with me for a bit) when a few years my brother-in-law-to-be (lives in LA, originally from Lancashire), and my liittle family were visiting my spouses' mum in Lancashire he was a little surprised that when I slowed down to 85mph on the M6 when about to overtake a police car; particularly so as the fuzz didn't mind.

        Which was fine, we were going a bit faster than that previously, thankfully I had very good vision at the time.

        Many folk confuse speed and safety, one of my main beefs in the UK is when it is pissing down big time is how eejits in lanes 1 & 2 bunch up to an absurdly dangerous degree; which means I can then safely exercise some Wellington owing to having x hundred meters emptiness in front of me in lane 3...

        Cheers,

        Jay

      3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Every driver in LA becomes highly skilled at driving fast without accidents.

        SHAOLIN MONKS OF LA DRIVING!

    2. Old Used Programmer

      In California, in residential areas, the default speed limit is 25 mph. El Camino Real is a major suburban street with a higher limit.

      (The real fun comes when looking at the history of maximum speed limits on open highways. At present, it's 65 mph unless posted otherwise...like 70 mph on some. The *original* limit was "reasonable and proper".)

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        "The real fun comes when looking at the history of maximum speed limits on open highways. At present, it's 65 mph unless posted otherwise...like 70 mph on some. The *original* limit was "reasonable and proper"."

        It mostly goes to population density. The sparser the population, the less the risk of a high-speed collision and therefore the safer it is to raise the limit. It also matters if your state is of some significant size like Montana and Texas. Texas houses the longest single chunk of singly-maintained highway in North America (it's piece of I-10, ~880 miles long, over 1/3 of the entire 2,400-mile-plus Interstate), and it's probably one of the few states known to post an 80mph limit, especially in the rural stretches of I-10. Montana I think used to have "reasonable and prudent" for its chunks of Interstates like I-90 but had to scale it back to only 75mph.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Nevada also had the "safe and reasonable". It got scaled back in the '70's due to the Arab oil boycott. Then the "think of the children" types jumped in and said 'leave the speed limits... it's safer". And greens jumped in with "it's safer on the wild animals and pollutes less"... and on and on. Some of these states are finally putting it back into place (the "safe and reasonable") however, if ticketed, just accept it and don't argue with the cop as you won't win. Nor will you win in court.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "35mph is now zooming scarily?"

      at 35mph, if you hit a pedestrian there's a 50% chance they'll die.

      at 40mph that's 90%

      30mph is 10% and 20mph is less than 5%

      What's more important in a road with people and children on it (urban and residential areas)? Little Johnny not being road jam, or you getting to your meeting 30 seconds earlier?

  10. cyrus
    Pint

    Google cars

    Have never been in an accident. Causing them might be another story.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. DanceMan

      Re: Google cars

      According to a previous report mentioned on el reg, they've been in 5 or 6, none their fault.

  11. jonathanb Silver badge

    In the UK, driving too slowly generally carries a higher penalty than driving too fast. There aren't many prosecutions for driving too slowly, but it does happen.

    1. Fraggle850

      I wish there were more prosecutions for driving too slowly in the UK

      It can be bloody dangerous.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I wish there were more prosecutions for driving too slowly in the UK

        Yes it can be, but only because the idiots speeding, or even going the posted limit are too stupid to be looking where they are going and notice the "hazard" in front of them and adjust their driving appropriately. If you cannot do that you shouldn't have a license in the first place.

        1. Fraggle850

          Re: I wish there were more prosecutions for driving too slowly in the UK

          Not necessarily what I was alluding to but admittedly such morons should be penalised.

          A particular bugbear of mine is those dawdling dickheads one sees on the motorway, sitting resolutely in the middle lane and going half a mile an hour faster than the trucks in lane one. Or worse still dawdling along the on ramp making no attempt to match their speed and pick a gap. Just the other day I saw one of these run out of slip road and cut in at the last minute causing traffic in lane one to take evasive action.

          If inattentive fast dickhead reacts unpredictably to inattentive slow dickhead no amount of forward thinking on my part can protect me.

  12. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Googlers are, by far, the biggest collection of asshole and incapable drivers I've ever witnessed in the US. Their self driving cars have unfortunately inherited some of those traits. The reason for them not officially being at fault in a crash is because each one exists inside its own low speed traffic jam bubble. Here's where you can witness the self-driving cars screwing up every weekday around 5 - 6 pm: Plymouth St and N Shoreline Blvd - Self driving cars can not pass through stopped traffic yielding at an intersection. W Middlefield Rd at N Shoreline Blvd - Self driving cars make illegal wide right turns across bike lane.

    1. Charles Manning

      Well I thought Google had hit the top peak of hate attraction with their Glasshole glasses.

      Looks like their driving is even worse.

    2. Old Used Programmer

      Under California law, a car may enter a bike lane within of an intersection 200 feet before making a turn. Are you claiming the Google cars are violating that? If so, in what way?

      1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        They're making right turns from the left side of the road. Cyclists get cut off and other cars get blocked.

  13. RIBrsiq

    Autonomous cars should clearly abide by all applicable rules when operating on public roads -- even during testing.

    So if there is a rule saying something like "drive at least [x] MPH, if you can", then they should have been fined. Where things get complicated is if there isn't such a rule and things are left to the drivers' judgment: if the autonomous car -- or in this case Google -- "judged" that 25MPH is right, then what...?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      So what happens when you get a law-vs-law clash, where a car is BOTH prohibited from driving too slow in relation to other cars AND prohibited (due to vehicle classification) from going OVER a specified speed? Especially when the minimum becomes higher than the maximum, meaning the car can't help but break the law now?

  14. wsm

    The future for Google cars is...

    Ever hear of cow tipping?

  15. We're all in it together

    This made me laugh

    In the leafy UK hamlet I drive through the average driving age is 150. Most of these elderly drivers are 3 ft high and get friction burns on the end of their noses from the steering wheel where they sit so close. I dread to think what would happen if the airbag deployed....

    Anyway getting to 25 mph would be nice as no matter what time of day I drive I tend to get stuck behind them.

    Then there's the state of the roads - potholes, worn out tarmac, non-existent road markings so I reckon if they brought the Google cars over here they'd all crash as they wouldn't be able to identify anything.

    1. Fraggle850

      Re: This made me laugh

      An argument for mandatory retesting? Not just for the elderly but for all drivers. Preferably with a three strikes and you're out policy for all driving tests. There are so many people whose ability seems marginal at best one wonders how they passed a test. Wouldn't need to be a full test, just basic competence, possibly every five years? Might be enough to make people realise that it's time to quit.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: This made me laugh

        "Wouldn't need to be a full test, just basic competence, possibly every five years?"

        Not sure of the terms and conditions, but a standard UK driving licence is only valid to the age of 70. After that it must be renewed. Maybe there's a medical or competence test?

        1. Fraggle850

          Re: This made me laugh

          If you drive a forklift truck you have to have a retest every three years.

          1. hplasm Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: This made me laugh

            "If you drive a forklift truck you have to have a retest every three years."

            Probably because of repetitive driving at 5mph in a 30 zone...

          2. HAL-9000

            Re: Fork truck (counter balace) licence

            Bollox I'm afraid, commonly held myth, but still bollox.

            1. Fraggle850

              Re: Fork truck (counter balace) licence

              Indeed, but that's just haggling over terminology. As stated in the linked article jobs require that you have a certificate that is no more than three years old. It is, to all intents and purposes, a licensing system. It's not a statutory requirement but it is a requirement nonetheless.

        2. .@.

          Re: This made me laugh

          It's just self-certification ("I think I am fit enough to drive ...") every 3 years once you're past 70. Now that my dad is 71, he's had to do this once so far. A lot of other people he knows his age have just given up and not renewed, but he's still going. Having been driven around by him recently, I couldn't fault him; he's a bit domineering on the road for his age, but that probably comes from his last job being a van driver... ;)

          Edit to add: I do believe that if you have certain medical conditions, a doctor will have to sign you off as fit to drive. But, only if DVLA actually know about it. Doctors are supposed to inform DVLA for certain conditions, but I don't know how robust that system is ...

          Of course, even if you keep self-certifying, there may come a point where you have so many minor bumps and medical problems that not even SAGA would insure you ...

          There was a great programme a few years ago on the BBC about centenarian drivers. Most were a bit on the slow side and one was so pisspoor (and, given he'd had a few sherries, probably pissed ...) that they were caught on camera almost getting wiped out by a lorry. At that kind of age, these people had never, ever, done a driving test in their life ... At least my dad had two; he did one, failed to hand the pass slip in and get his licence exchanged (even though he had ten years to do it) and had to go and do it again!

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: This made me laugh

          > a standard UK driving licence is only valid to the age of 70. After that it must be renewed.

          Yup

          > Maybe there's a medical or competence test?

          Nope. The license holder simply has to declare that they are still fit to drive.

          The results are as could be expected.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: This made me laugh

        "An argument for mandatory retesting?"

        It will happen and standards will tighten, not just for the fossils driving around in their A40s bought new and lovingly polished up every sunday before being taken on a rural cruise at 20mph.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This made me laugh

      Everyone else is a bad driver except you, then. Don't forget to hand in your driving licence voluntarily when you get old.

      1. Fraggle850

        Re: This made me laugh

        Retesting would negate your comment

      2. Diogenes
        Windows

        Re: This made me laugh

        Everyone else is a bad driver except you, then. Don't forget to hand in your driving licence voluntarily when you get old.

        Like my dear old dad used to say"OTHER people are idiots, if you remember that the world makes sense". with a heavy emphasis on the other.

        OTOH I was a service station the other day. I pulled in behind this old dude. He had already opened his door when I pulled up. I had stopped, got out, put 70 litres in, chose an ice cream and paid for ice cream & fuel,, and was ready to go again by the time he had finally inserted his hose into his fuel tank. I would hate to see HIS reaction times.

  16. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge
    FAIL

    I lived in California back in the day, long enough to need to pass a driving test, both theory and practical exam. The "driving too slowly is just as dangerous as driving too fast and is just as big a crime against humanity" mantra is instilled into you so hard that you won't be able to free your brain from it by any surgical means. Until this day whenever I see a car (in a different part of the world) moving slower than the posted speed limit I can't help thinking, "in CA the Highway Patrol would have your ass by now, buddy."

    I can only assume that no one at Google who is involved in the project has ever had to pass the DMV test. Otherwise there would be no talk of limiting the speed to 25mph "to look friendly and approachable".

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Until this day whenever I see a car (in a different part of the world) moving slower than the posted speed limit I can't help thinking, "in CA the Highway Patrol would have your ass by now, buddy."

      I well remember my driving instructor instilling into me the mantra the "It's a speed LIMIT, not a speed TARGET" here in the UK.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > "It's a speed LIMIT, not a speed TARGET"

        'Limit' as in lower boundary in optimal conditions?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          'Limit' as in lower boundary in optimal conditions?

          Under optimal conditions, prepare for blue lights, a good talking-to and "voluntary" contributions to the state's revenue stream.

  17. chivo243 Silver badge

    that's a good one

    How do you stop a driverless car? Better yet, how does the officer stop the moving vehicle? The Force? It's a short article, I don't think I missed any details?

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: that's a good one

      I think you ask the human occupants to push the "pull over" button.

      1. chivo243 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: that's a good one

        And what if the human doesn't want to push the button? Will the officer ask again nicely? Or, what if the human can't push the button due to intoxication/overdose, heart attack or gunshot wound?

        These are the questions that lead to those D'oh moments.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: that's a good one

          > And what if the human doesn't want to push the button?

          Boom, headshot!

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: that's a good one

            Headshot? To the meatbag in the front seat or to the car's control module?

        2. 404 Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: that's a good one

          Central government control... as seen in 'Idiocracy'

          Car randomly pulls over on your way to church...

          Siri/Cortana/OKGoogle voice says: 'Your vehicle is occupied by a wanted individual. The doors have been locked for your safety and protection. Please wait for authorities to arrive'.

          *Then* 'BOOM, Headshot!'

          OR The car simply takes you to to the local police lockup - think of the savings in traffic cops/pursuit vehicles/maintenance.

  18. Swiss Anton
    Joke

    First sale in the UK.

    In an exclusive deal with the British Caravanners Club, Google cars will be made available at a 10% discount and with a free towing hook upgrade. However some members of the club have expressed concerns over the excessive speed of these vehicles.

  19. Steve Knox

    Ran this through Google Translate:

    "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."

    Translation:

    "Our cars' decision processing can't work fast enough to run consistently over 25mph, but we don't want to admit how bad they actually are, so we came up with this touchy-feely explanation we hope will mollify enough of the stupid."

    1. KjetilS

      Re: Ran this through Google Translate:

      If by decision processing you mean the fleshy bits inside, then maybe you are right. If the cars were going 60mph, the humans inside wouldn't have time to react if the car did something stupid.

      1. Steve Knox
        Holmes

        Re: Ran this through Google Translate:

        If the electronics were up to the task, "the car did something stupid" "going at 60mph" would be an impossible situation.

        1. thedarke

          Re: Ran this through Google Translate:

          Doubt it's the hardware. Suspect it's a simple case of the the Engineers going "We think the code will work, but please, don't poke it too hard yet". Nothing like a Developer couching the crap out of their code.

          1. moiety

            Re: Ran this through Google Translate:

            In fairness (assuming about 1 tonne for the car @ 25mph), according to Wolfram Alpha that's 62.45 kilojoules going somewhere if things go wrong. That's quite a lot of energy to get in the face. Considering the software is at least in beta -if not alpha- the 25 mph limit does make sense.

        2. John Bailey

          Re: Ran this through Google Translate:

          "If the electronics were up to the task, "the car did something stupid" "going at 60mph" would be an impossible situation."

          And if that were the case, then the project would be out of beta. It currently isn't.

  20. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    What's funny...

    Some people actually believe that practical self driving cars are just around the corner. This implies that Strong AI is here, but it isn't. At best, they'll be in the way, being artificially stupid, and causing a trail of anger.

    They don't even have an initial concept for precise lane keeping on snow covered roads.

    Some even assume that traffic congestion can be solved by such self driving cars not being parked at 7:59am, but heading back out on the road, driving around empty. Scary what's inside some heads.

    1. Old Used Programmer

      Re: What's funny...

      I agree that they're "just around the corner". But I don't know how far away the corner is. (We've been 10 years from Artificial Intelligence...for the last 50 years.)

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. ITS Retired
        Facepalm

        Re: What's funny...

        And genuine intelligence is in short supply also, even with many thousands of years of development.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: What's funny...

        "But I don't know how far away the corner is."

        And at 25mph it might take a while to get there!

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      These ain't the 80s anymore

      Some people actually believe that practical self driving cars are just around the corner. This implies that Strong AI is here

      Pfff.... meatsacks that actually manage to drive and otherwise are just good for pushing buttons that do nothing of consequence in real life clearly belie that kind of statement.

      This includes quite a chunk of military personnel btw.

    3. NomNomNom

      Re: What's funny...

      Finally someone who agrees with me, including the part about strong AI

      Call me when they can get AI car drivers performing realistically in the controlled environment of video games before trying to convince me current AI algorithms are sufficient to pilot cars safely and practically in the real world.

      One thing I don't quite understand is what Google get out of this project.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What's funny...

        Strong AI does exist today, it's the requirements definition part that is weak.

        Humans have to be able react to any eventuality. That they may do so in a really bad way is no different from AI not knowing how to deal with circumstances it hasn't experienced before.

        1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: What's funny...

          AC: "Strong AI does exist today..."

          BS.

          AI exists, arguably.

          Strong AI is still a dream.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: What's funny...

        "One thing I don't quite understand is what Google get out of this project."

        If successful, same thing they get from Android. Control over the ecosystem (and probably some patents), data collection and advertising opportunities. What else are people going to do in a self-driving Google powered car if not watching adverts every time they enter a destination or pass within a mile of a "partner"?

      3. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        Re: What's funny...

        "One thing I don't quite understand is what Google get out of this project."

        Are you kidding? The same thing Google does with their search engine: Knowing where you've been, where you are, what you might want, and then taking you to paid results. You get in the car and say, "I want a burger." It offers to take you to whatever local restaurants are paying for hits on burger searches. On the way home it mentions that some stores are having sales and offers to take you there too. Money, money, money.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What's funny...

      @Jeffypooh - re: artificially stupid

      Only problem here is that they're not being artificially stupid, they're just obeying the rules (which may or may not be stupid rules).

      When safety trumps everything, stupidity, inefficiency and box ticking is the inevitable result. When someone else (eg the robot, or the State), can think on your behalf, you don't have to make the decisions any more. It's all part of dumbing down the population.

      If cars had been invented yesterday, they would be banned on safety grounds today.

      That being said, whilst US drivers are killing 30,000 people every year, there is a good case for robot cars. But driving, for those who care, is all set to become a bland and boring experience.

  21. jake Silver badge

    Here in California ...

    Here in California, it's a moving violation. "Impeding the flow of traffic", to be precise. Ticket, court, points on driving record, insurance rates go up, etc.

    Except the gootards, apparently.

    As a side-note, if you are doing 35MPH in a 35 zone and refuse to pull over to let faster traffic pass, you can be cited for this ... it's not up to you to decide how fast other traffic moves. Note that that doesn't mean that the speeders won't get tickets.

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Here in California ...

      jake "...you can be cited for this ... "

      Citation are issued at the whim of the officer. I doubt that such a ticket would survive review by the prosecution, let alone a judge. A phone call to the prosecution would make it go away.

      Many people are confused on this point. Similar to 'You can be sued...'.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Here in California ...

        My brother's father-in-law decided to enforce the local speed limits as a civilian. He finally received so many tickets (and lost in court) that he no longer holds a valid driver's license.

        ::shrugs::

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Here in California ...

      "As a side-note, if you are doing 35MPH in a 35 zone and refuse to pull over to let faster traffic pass, you can be cited for this ... it's not up to you to decide how fast other traffic moves. Note that that doesn't mean that the speeders won't get tickets."

      Seriously? You can break the law by refusing to break the law? That is just so retarded. I think if that was me I'd find a good lawyer and argue that getting out of the way of speeders or speeding "because everyone else is" is equivalent to aiding and abetting.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Here in California ...

        "Arrested for resisting arrest"

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google is clueless

    They actually think it's OK to have unsafe vehicles on the roadways obstructing traffic. They should have been issued a ticket and warned that further incidents like this would have their test vehicles banned from all CA roadways do to the danger and road rage they create.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Google is clueless

      "Creating road rage" sounds like a new, pressing problem that presidental candidates could work on prime time TV and for which emotional solutions could be proposed.

  23. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Machine Learning meet DO-178...

    Some of you might know about the DO-178B/C process. Design Assurance Level 'A' and all that analysis and documentation. Often required for safety-critical software.

    But AI often relies on 'machine learning'.

    How do you certify a system that's been trained, not explicitly designed?

    As far as I know, the tools you'd need to do 'code review' of the resultant training data do not even exist. Maybe they do, but I suspect there's a gap exactly there.

    Some may try to claim that testing can support certification of such systems. They'd just need BILLIONS of hours of testing. This might take a while...

    'Just around the corner.' Like flying cars. Like fusion power. Like Middle East peace.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Holmes

      I you want a guarantee, get a toaster

      Some of you might know about the DO-178B/C process. Design Assurance Level 'A' and all that analysis and documentation. Often required for safety-critical software.

      Non-applicable in any case of real-world-handling machine.

      Even in aircraft/spacecraft, only small elements of the whole software have "A" level design assurance - those where things are basically running on rails (reflex arcs, completely specifiable subsystems). Once it gets interesting, guess what? Downgrade to level "C" or worse and let the error handler make everything go to "safe mode" as needed.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: I you want a guarantee, get a toaster

        So, how do you certify a Machine Learning system to Level 'C'?

        Answer: You can't. Not practically.

        In reality, the system might not recognize pedestrians wearing kilts. You just don't know.

        Testing (vice Analysis) to the required level of safety will take a Very Long Time.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Self-driving F1 car

    Select mode:

    Fangio

    Brabham

    Lauda

    Hill

    Senna

    Prost

  25. OliverJ

    StVO §3 (2). Google it. Good luck in Germany with your friendly slow-moving Wonka-wagons, Google.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      "Without valid reason..."

      So you are suggesting that conforming to the Californian regulations for their vehicle (which was in California at the time) wouldn't be a valid defense if for some odd reason they chose to prosecute a purely Californian case in Germany???

  26. Luiz Abdala
    Joke

    Nothing prevents...

    ...cop cars emiting a fax tone that automated cars could pick up and pull over.

    Sirens are annoying already, they emiting a fax tone yelling "pull over" at 14.4kbps wouldn't be more annoying than it already is.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the UK there are a few roads with posted minimum speed limits, here's a link to a google street view of the blackwall tunnel Northern Approach showing a posted minimum 10MPH limit

    https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.5124216,-0.0081049,3a,75y,161.64h,64.02t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1shIohZMmxNjdXv3oIo8vbJw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

  28. Scott 1

    Road Hazard

    Don't these people realize that driving too slowly is quite dangerous?

  29. Mutton Jeff

    Probably Goog's next venture...

    Self driving funerals.

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