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Google’s self-driving car got pulled over for driving too slow

Aleksandr Milewski

Google's self-driving car may be able to navigate the roads on its own, but it's not yet advanced enough to avoid cops. This picture, showing Google's cute little prototype vehicle stopped by an officer of the law, was tweeted earlier today by David E. Weekly, the head of Google's rapid rollout lab. The company soon took to Google+ to explain the image, suggesting that the car had been pulled over for driving too slowly.

"Driving too slowly? Bet humans don't get pulled over for that too often," the company wrote, ignoring the fact that the autonomous car did indeed have the legally mandated human overseer present at the time. Google notes that it's capped the speed that its self-driving cars can go at 25 mph, a decision that it says was driven by a desire to make them feel "friendly and approachable, rather than zooming scarily through neighborhood streets."

"Driving too slowly? Bet humans don't get pulled over for that too often."

The officer in this image is certainly taking the "approachable" part of that sentiment to heart, but as for making roads safer, the jury is still out. Research conducted earlier this year indicated that self-driving vehicles might actually crash more often than regular cars, but the scientists behind the study put such heavy caveats on their report — noting that the autonomous vehicles are prototypes and the data set is minuscule — that their findings may mean nothing at all. Most importantly, there's no evidence yet that autonomous cars are actually at fault for any of the accidents they've been involved in, suggesting that fellow road users gawping at the strange jellybean-esque vehicle trundling towards them may actually be responsible for low-speed fender benders.

Even the police aren't immune from the impulse to get a closer look. "Like this officer," Google says, "people sometimes flag us down when they want to know more about our project." We too should know more about the future of self-driving cars, and whether our next set of wheels will be able to automatically avoid duck-chasing grannies, as Google's car project continues on.

Verge Video Vault: Google's self-driving car project