Calif. cop pulls over Google autonomous car -- for driving too slowly

Neither the car, nor the humans inside, got a ticket

Google's self-driving car had a run-in with the law this week.

A Mountain View, Calif. motorcycle police officer pulled over a Google autonomous car for driving too slowly, and a photo of the roadside stop posted to Facebook by Zandr Milewski has gone viral.

Google responded to the hubbub yesterday on its Self-Driving Car Project page on Google+.

"Driving too slowly? Bet humans don't get pulled over for that too often," the car team wrote in its blog post. "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."

It seems neither Google, nor the humans in the vehicle, were given a ticket.

"Like this officer, people sometimes flag us down when they want to know more about our project," Google noted. "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!"

The Mountain View Police Department, however, didn't make it sound like the officer stopped the car just out of curiosity.

"This afternoon a Mountain View Police Department traffic officer noticed traffic backing up behind a slow moving car traveling in the eastbound #3 lane on El Camino Real, near Rengstorff Ave," the department reported in a blog post. "The car was traveling at 24 mph in a 35 mph zone."

When the officer approached the car, he realized it was a Google self-driving vehivle and spoke with the operators inside about how they choose what speeds to use along certain roadways.

The officer, according to the police department, also "educated" the operators about not impeding traffic.

However, the police also noted that under the Neighborhood Electric Vehicle Definition in the California Vehicle Code, Google's autonomous cars can only travel at or under 35 miles per hour. That means the car was not breaking the law, but was holding up traffic and potentially causing a dangerous situation.

"The Mountain View Police Department meets regularly with Google to ensure that their vehicles operate safely in our community," the police department noted.

Google has been testing its self-driving cars in California on city streets and major roads.

By this past September, Google had 73 autonomous vehicles. That number is up from just 23 in mid-May.

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