Last month, one of Google’s automated driverless cars was actually stopped by the police for driving too slow. The incident received a lot of publicity and exposure as a result of the public’s fascination with driverless cars.
The car in question was stopped in California from moving at a rate of 24mph in a zone where the posted speed limit was 35mph. Google does not allow their driverless cars to go out on the road in areas with a speed limit of more than 35mph.
According to Google, this was because slower speeds were easier for their development process and they cared about the approachability of the vehicle. This November, after two months of an accident-free record, the self-driving car from Google was involved in an incident. Although the car came to a complete stop at a red light, it moved forward to get a better view of traffic coming from the left in order to determine the safety of making a right turn.
A vehicle from behind the car rolled into the Google driverless car with a speed of 4mph. The car only sustained minor damage. This was one of the first and only incidents involving a car accident with the Google driverless car but it does shed important light on how the automatic transmission of data involving emergencies is passed on to Google researchers.
The ability to contact emergency authorities in an accident is in fact one of the confusing legal issues about what to do if Google’s driverless car is involved in a car collision. Rather than two or more individuals stopping to exchange information, there could be clear questions about blame and there will be a lot of legal gray area to determine when, if ever, a driverless car is at fault for an accident.