News: Google allows its driverless cars to break the speed limit

Blame the car, officer

Google Cars can break the speed limit

SO, WHO would get the speeding ticket: the driverless car or its occupant?

Google has programmed its driverless cars to break the speed limit by up to 10mph because it says doing so makes the vehicle safer, reports The Times.

Dmitri Dolgov, the lead software engineer in the Google X experimental technology division that is developing driverless cars, said its tests had shown that keeping to a speed limit when nearby cars were going faster, was more dangerous than speeding up.

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The company’s research had suggested that a slow moving car causes faster-moving traffic to bunch up behind it, which can lead to accidents.

“Thousands and thousands of people are killed in car accidents every year,” said Dolgov. Allowing driverless cars to speed “could change that”.

The Highway Code says that drivers “mustn’t drive faster than the speed limit for the type of road and your type of vehicle.” It goes on: “The speed limit is the absolute maximum and it doesn’t mean it’s safe to drive at this speed in all conditions.”

That sounds pretty clear, so the government has promised to review road rules ahead of the testing of driverless cars on public roads, which it has agreed can begin next year.

Deciding who (or what) is legally liable when a driverless car is involved in a crash has still to be resolved. Deciding who was speeding – the car or the driver – threatens to complicate the legal position of driverless cars further still.

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