Google Self-Driving Car Gets Pulled Over, Cop Finds No Driver to Ticket
One of Google's fleet of electric self-driving cars was pulled over by a police officer yesterday in Mountain View, California. The reason: going too slow. The vehicle was traveling 24 miles per hour (mph) in a 35-mph zone, backing up traffic, the Mountain View Police Department said.
Google’s self-driving car got pulled over for driving too slow https://t.co/ccjhQ9D69g https://t.co/o508no7lZk— Verge Transportation (@Verge Transportation)1447425858.0
“Driving too slowly? Bet humans don’t get pulled over for that too often,” said the Google car team in a Google+ post. “We’ve capped the speed of our prototype vehicles at 25 mph for safety reasons.” If you're wondering how the officer even managed to pull over a self-driving car, there is a human passenger who can manually take over the vehicle at any time.
The car wasn't actually violating the law, so no citation was given. Google autonomous cars are only allowed to operate on roads with speed limits at or under 35 mph because Google sets the speed so low. Since the speed limit was 35 mph, the Google car was driving lawfully, the Mountain View Police Department said.
"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 (that’s the human equivalent of 90 years of driving experience), we’re proud to say we’ve never been ticketed," boasted the Google car team.
While some (myself included) find the idea of driving behind a car going 24 mph in a 35-mph zone painful, others pointed out that at least it was driving safely. Remember, about 1.25 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes, which are the leading cause of death among those aged 15 to 29.
Better driving 25 and paying attention automatically than 35 and driver distracted in his cell. #Selfdriving #google https://t.co/Y6TMZ8Lc3w— Marc Delingat (@Marc Delingat)1447433743.0
The technology for self-driving cars has been making major in-roads in recent years. Several major car companies, including Ford and Mercedes-Benz, are developing self-driving cars. But it's obviously not just car companies. Tech companies such as Google and Apple are getting into the game as well.
“It seems like every billionaire with a tech company is working on a self-driving car,” joked Stephen Colbert on the Late Show last month. When Tesla updated its fleet of electric cars with an autopilot feature last month, Colbert told Late Show viewers, "this technology is self-driving towards us whether we like it or not.”
Be that as it may, the technology is still in its infancy. Tesla's feature makes the car semi-autonomous, though Tesla CEO Elon Musk estimates that a fully autonomous car is only a few years away. And despite Musk's warnings that "the software is still very new" and drivers should be very careful, there were still, of course, some hiccups. One Tesla driver wasn't as lucky as the Google car when he was pulled over by the Florida highway patrol. He had set his autopilot for 75 mph in a 60-mph zone. When Tesla issued the update, it cautioned drivers that they are "still responsible for, and ultimately in control of, the car.” If a Tesla on autopilot gets in an accident, it will still be the driver’s fault.
Last month, drivers of a Tesla Model S completed a cross-country road trip in record time for an electric vehicle—and the car drove itself almost the entire way.
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By Dolf Gielen and Morgan Bazilian
John Kerry helped bring the world into the Paris climate agreement and expanded America's reputation as a climate leader. That reputation is now in tatters, and President-elect Joe Biden is asking Kerry to rebuild it again – this time as U.S. climate envoy.
Energy Is at the Center of the Climate Challenge<p>The <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/1/" target="_blank">effects of climate change</a> are already evident across the globe, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/100-degrees-in-siberia-5-ways-the-extreme-arctic-heat-wave-follows-a-disturbing-pattern-141442" target="_blank">extreme heat waves</a> to <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/12/" target="_blank">sea level rise</a>. But while the challenge is daunting, there is hope. Solar and wind power have become the <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2020/Jun/Renewable-Power-Costs-in-2019" target="_blank">cheapest forms of power generation globally</a>, and technology progress and innovation continue apace to support a transition to clean energy.</p><p>In the U.S. under a Biden administration, long-term national climate legislation will depend on who controls the Senate, and that won't be clear until after two run-off elections in Georgia in January.</p><p>But there is no shortage of <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-biden-climate-change-advice/" target="_blank">ideas for ways Biden</a> could still take action even if his proposals are blocked in Congress. For example, he could use executive orders and direct government agencies to tighten regulations on greenhouse gas emissions; increase research and development in clean energy technologies; and empower states to exceed national standards, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-emissions-california/defying-trump-california-locks-in-vehicle-emission-deals-with-major-automakers-idUSKCN25D2CH" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">as California did in the past with auto emission standards</a>. A focus on a just and equitable transition for communities and people affected by the decline of fossil fuels will also be key to creating a sustainable transition.</p><p>The U.S. position as the world's largest oil and gas producer and consumer creates political challenges for any administration. U.S. forays into European energy security are often treated with suspicion. Recently, France blocked <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/frances-engie-backs-out-of-u-s-lng-deal-11604435609" target="_blank">a multi-billion dollar contract</a> to buy U.S. liquefied natural gas because of concerns about limited emissions regulations in Texas.</p><p>Strengthening cooperation and partnerships with like-minded countries will be critical to bring about a transition to cleaner energy as well as sustainability in agriculture, forestry, water and other sectors of the global economy.</p>
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We Need More Than Listening<p>By now we have all become sadly accustomed to the current administration sidelining scientists, most prominently Dr. Anthony Fauci, because the facts they provide do not fit with the political rhetoric of the moment.</p><p>I have <a href="https://www.csldf.org/2019/08/22/csldf-helps-climate-scientist-maria-caffrey-fight-for-scientific-integrity/" target="_blank">my own history</a> of filing a scientific integrity complaint with the National Park Service (which falls under the Department of the Interior) after senior ranking employees attempted to censor one of my scientific reports. I know all too well the damage and pain that these actions cause, not just for the individual scientist, but also because these <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/attacks-on-science" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">attacks on science</a> over the last few years have undermined sound, evidence-based decision making.</p><p>President-elect Biden has repeatedly said that he will <a href="https://thehill.com/homenews/521638-trump-biden-will-listen-to-the-scientists-if-elected" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">listen to the scientists</a>. While this is certainly a welcome change, listening can only take us so far. This past week Lauren Kurtz from the <a href="https://www.csldf.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Climate Science Legal Defense Fund</a> and my colleague <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/about/people/gretchen-goldman" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gretchen Goldman</a> published <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ten-steps-that-can-restore-scientific-integrity-in-government/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an article</a> listing 10 actions the new administration should implement to show their commitment to strengthening government science:</p><ol><li>Clearly prohibit political interference and censorship.</li><li>Protect scientists' communication rights.</li><li>Acknowledge that attempts to violate scientific integrity, even if ultimately not fruitful, are still violations.</li><li>Protect federal scientists' right to provide information to Congress and other lawmakers.</li><li>Commit to incorporating the best science as part of agency decisions.</li><li>Elevate agency scientific integrity policies to have the full force of law.</li><li>Publicly release anonymized information about scientific integrity complaints and their resolutions at every agency.</li><li>Institute an intra-agency workforce, potentially under the White House <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/2020-09/strengthening-science-and-si-at-ostp.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Office of Science and Technology Policy</a>, to coordinate scientific integrity efforts across agencies, foster discussion of policy improvements, and standardize criteria for policies across agencies.</li><li>Strengthen whistleblower protections.</li><li>Ensure that policies cover all actors who will be dealing with science.</li></ol>
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