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California police pull over self-driving Google car for going too slowly

A police officer pulled over a car in California recently with the intention of giving the driver a ticket, but there was one problem: there was no driver.

Car was sent on its way with a warning but no ticket

One of Google's self-driving cars was pulled over recently for driving below the posted speed limit and impeding traffic in Mountain View, Calif. (Aleksandr Milewski/Google)

A police officer pulled over a car in California recently with the intention of giving the driver a ticket, but there was one problem: there was no driver.

The officer in Mountain View, Calif., pulled over the car as it was driving along El Camino Real on Thursday because it was driving 24 miles an hour — 38 kilometres per hour — well below the posted speed limit, and causing a backlog behind it.

But when he pulled it over, he discovered the vehicle in question was an autonomous one specially made by Google, that drives and makes decisions without the need of a human driver — although two humans were in the car taking notes and able to manually override and take over the controls if necessary.

"The officer stopped the car and made contact with the operators to learn more about how the car was choosing speeds along certain roadways," a police statement on the incident said, "and to educate the operators about impeding traffic per 22400(a) of the California Vehicle Code."

The officer sent the car on its way with a warning to not impede the flow of traffic.

Google's self-driving cars are legally allowed to drive on California roads with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour (56 kilometres per hour) and under. That's the speed limit on the portion of El Camino Real, near Rengstorff Ave., in question.

Google says its cars have logged 1.9 million kilometres of autonomous driving since the first ones launched in prototype form six years ago and have been involved in 11 minor accidents during that time, each of which was caused by human error.

"We're proud to say we've never been ticketed," the company said in a statement.

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