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Google Self-Driving Car Gets Pulled Over, Doesn't Get a Ticket

"License and regis ... hey, what the ...?"

Google via Google Plus

Yes, that’s a Google self-driving car in the photo above, being pulled over by a motorcycle cop. The offense? Nothing serious — apparently the curious car and its curiously measured pace were enough to attract the officer’s attention.

“Driving too slowly? Bet humans don’t get pulled over for that too often,” said the Google car team in a Google+ post today. “We’ve capped the speed of our prototype vehicles at 25 mph for safety reasons.”

The cars do get pulled over from time to time, but so far, says Google, they have a clean record: “Like this officer, people sometimes flag us down when they want to know more about our project. After 1.2 million miles of autonomous driving … we’re proud to say we’ve never been ticketed!”

The question of who gets the ticket if a self-driving car does commit a violation is still pretty gray. California law, for instance, currently says a ticket belongs to the person in the driver’s seat, and the DMV is trying to decide what should happen if that seat is empty. For its part, Google has said that if one of its cars breaks the law, the company will cover the ticket.

But that looks like it will be a rare occasion, and the Brookings Institution warns that local governments had better get ready for a lot of their fine revenue to dry up as smarter cars replace dumb drivers.

Update: Mountain View Police Department, which pulled the car over, says in a blog post that it determined “it was lawful for the car to be traveling on the [35 mile per hour] street,” according to the California Vehicle Code.

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