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Google's driverless cars will break speed limits to be 'safer'

James Temperton
21 Aug 2014
Google driverless car
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Google self-driving cars programmed to break speed limits, with company claiming it will make them safer

Google's high-tech driverless cars will be programmed to break speed limits, with the company saying this will actually make them safer. The driverless car, which could be on UK roads next year, will be programmed to go 10 mph above speed limits.

The bubble-shaped electric cars are currently being tested in the US and the first fleet should be ready early in 2015. The prototype vehicles currently being used are limited to 25mph and have a range of around 100 miles.

Google has now said that its driverless cars will be deliberately programmed to break speed limits. Dmitri Dolgov, lead software engineer on the project, said that the cars would be able to go up to 10mph (16kph) above speed limits when necessary. "Thousands and thousands of people are killed in car accidents every year. This could change that," Dolgov said.

Driverless cars have been given the green light for use on UK roads from January 2015, with three cities soon be selected as test sites for the first trials. The government has said that it wants the UK to lead the world in driverless car technology.

It isn't yet clear if Google's driverless cars, or any other automated cars, will be allowed to break UK speed limits. With trials of driverless cars less than six months away, autonomous vehicles could soon be a regular sight on roads in some UK cities.

Current regulations require Google to fit its cars with manual controls on public roads in the US, but the UK government is looking to hurry through changes to allow autonomous vehicles. Google's two-seater driverless cars have a bumper made of foam in case of collisions with pedestrians, with sensors able to see for 600 feet in all directions.

Major car companies including BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, General Motors and Volvo are already testing driverless and assisted cars and it isn't yet clear what models will be cleared for testing on UK roads next year.

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