Google car
Google

Google's self-driving cars are programmed to exceed speed limits by up to 10mph, the project's chief software engineer, Dmitri Dolgov, has revealed.

Speaking to the Reuters news agency, he said that the driverless cars were programmed to exceed posted speed limits when surrounding vehicles were driving at a similar speed.

The idea is to prevent the Google car from becoming a potentially dangerous obstacle in fast-moving traffic, and could potentially improve road safety.

Google's self-driving cars have undergone an extensive development program on public roads since the project was first made public in 2010, covering more than 300,000 miles, mostly around California.

The majority of testing has involved the use of Google's self-driving technology on vehicles built by established manufacturers. However, this year, the tech giant announced that it was to build its very own model.

The bubble-shaped vehicles are capable of seating two and are powered entirely by electricity. Initially their top speed will be limited to just 25mph to help ensure safety in the initial phase of their introduction.

In the face of the ever-expanding development of autonomous cars by both tech companies and existing car manufacturers, the UK has announced that it will allow such vehicles on public roads from 2015.

In response to the revelation that Google's cars can break speed limits, a Department for Transport spokesman told the BBC: "There are no plans to change speed limits, which will still apply to driverless cars".

Ministers have also tabled proposed revisions to the Highway Code and other road regulations to accommodate the new cars.

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