No driver, no ticket: Police in California pull over Google self-driving car going too slowly

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – A California police officer made a traffic stop but wrote no ticket. There was no one actually driving the car.

The officer pulled over a self-driving car specially designed by Google that was being tested on local roads Thursday, the Mountain View Police Department said in a statement.

He noticed the car going 24 mph (38 kph) in a 35 mph zone and realized it was a Google Autonomous Vehicle. The officer stopped the car and contacted the person behind the wheel to say the vehicle was impeding traffic, but he didn’t give out a citation.

California law requires someone to sit in the driver’s seat of self-driving cars, though the person isn’t actually controlling the vehicle.

The Google project responded in a blog post, saying the cars have never received a ticket and adding, “Driving too slowly? Bet humans don’t get pulled over for that too often.”

Police in Mountain View, where Google Inc. is based, say they regularly meet with the tech giant to make sure the vehicles are operating safely.

The self-driving cars that Google has been testing on California’s roads and highways were involved in 11 minor accidents over the past six years, according to the company.

The director of Google’s self-driving car project wrote in a Web post that all 11 accidents were minor — “light damage, no injuries” — and happened over 1.7 million miles of testing, including nearly 1 million miles in self-driving mode. Google has said that self-driving cars were never at fault.

California state officials released reports in June detailing six accidents that involved self-driving car prototypes. Most of the cars were in self-driving mode when the accidents happened, and the other driver caused the accident. None of the crashes was serious enough to cause injuries.