from the avoiding-accidents-is-dangerous-driving dept.
BBC reports that according to Dmitri Dolgov, lead software engineer for Google's driverless car project, Google's self-driving cars are programmed to exceed speed limits by up to 10 mph when surrounding vehicles are breaking the speed limit, because going more slowly could actually present a danger. In many countries, including the United States, the speed limit is a rather nebulous thing. It's posted, but on many roads hardly anybody obeys it.
Almost every driver speeds regularly, and anybody going at or below the limit on a clear road outside the right lane is typically an obstruction to traffic—they will find themselves being tailgated or passed at high speed on the left and right. A ticket for going 1 mph over the limit is an extremely rare thing and usually signals a cop with another agenda or a special day of zero-tolerance enforcement. In fact, many drivers feel safe from tickets up to about 9 mph over the limit. Tickets happen there, but the major penalties require going faster, and most police like to go after that one weaving, racing guy who thinks the limit does not apply to him. Commenting on Google self-drive cars' ability to exceed the speed limit, a Department for Transport spokesman said: "There are no plans to change speed limits, which will still apply to driverless cars".