Google’s self-driving vars will be allowed to break the speed limit

Google’s self-driving vehicle is still a work in progress, and one of the more interesting recent developments have certainly raised our eyebrows. Apparently, Google has allowed their self-driving car to actually break the legal speed limit by up to 10mph, at least according to the head of the project, although the local authorities are not going to be too amused by this, and certainly would not approve should the ride run afoul of the law. Who do you think will “win” out in the end – the software engineers behind the autonomous car project, or the police? In the first place, do you think that such a provision should be in there at all? After all, there really is no point searching for trouble autonomously, is there?

Google’s driverless cars have been given permission to break the speed limit by 10mph admits the head of the search company’s autonomous car project – but only by software engineers, not the police. Dmitri Dolgov, the project’s lead software engineer, told Reuters during a recent test drive that it would be safer for Google’s cars to keep up with traffic when it was slightly exceeding the speed limit than to rigidly stick to it and cause an obstruction. But this ability to speed has been restricted to 10mph over the speed limit, he said. It is not clear who would be liable to pay a speeding fine when a driverless car was involved: the owner, the passenger or Google for writing the software. The problem is just one of many legislative and insurance issues that need to be resolved before the autonomous cars can become mainstream. Dolgov also said that there were “ethical issues” to be ironed out before the cars can become commercially viable. “Should a car try to protect its occupants at the expense of hitting pedestrians? And will we accept it when machines make mistakes, even if they make far fewer mistakes than humans? We can significantly reduce risk, but I don’t think we can drive it to zero,” he said.

By Michio Hasai

+Michio Hasai is a social strategist and car guy. Find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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