Q One night on a walk in Mountain View I saw two different Google self-driving cars within 5 minutes doing a right hook across the bike lane to make a right turn. Luckily the streets were empty of bicyclists. What should people do when they see bad driving by self driving cars?
A This is easy. Just e-mail Google. Bicyclists in San Francisco are complaining as well, saying that rather than merging into the bike lane before a turn, self-driving cars are making abrupt “right hook” turns that are dangerous to bicyclists. Go here to to provide feedback.
Q I understand that Google has to test its self driving cars at all times, in all types of traffic conditions. But very often, I see their newer cars going about 25 mph in zones where the speed limit is higher, and the flow of traffic even faster. This inevitably leads to a line of annoyed drivers behind them, and backed up traffic on busy roads. Drivers can be cited for driving too slowly and holding up traffic, so how is it OK with the self driving cars?
A It’s not OK unless the Google car senses a problem ahead and is responding cautiously.
Q One day I picked up a friend in Mountain View. Ahead of us on El Camino Real was one those Google self-driving cars. It was doing the speed limit as I’m sure it is commanded to do, but it was in the center lane thereby blocking traffic and making everybody go to either the left or the right of it. I guess it’ not instructed to stay to the right if not passing.
Turning onto San Antonio Road we encountered three more of these vehicles creeping along in the middle lane unaware of the jam they were causing. My friend says he sees these cars from Google and other companies all the time.
Do they have a special exemption from the rules?
A No, but it seems to me that the Google car was not the problem but the other drivers wanting to go faster were.
Q As far as I know, I’ve never seen one, but I find it hard to believe that a carefully constructed robot could make any more errors in judgment than the vast numbers of careless, distracted, self-centered randomly conceived morons operating heavy machinery on our highways. Google cars don’t have to be perfect to be an improvement.
A Over 94 percent of collisions are the fault of drivers and not Google vehicles. In the first 6 years since the project began, Google was involved in 11 minor accidents (light damage, no injuries) during 1.7 million miles of driving and not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident.
Q Google may be able to make driverless cars, but they cannot replace Mr. Roadshow. You may get questions from the car. Potholes, lights, carpool lanes, the problems won’t go away.
Maybe Google will tell you it wants a lane for driverless cars only.
A What a great idea!
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