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Google’s self-driving cars can break the speed limit

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Google's self-driving car

Google has confirmed that its self-driving cars have the ability to break the speed limit, but only in the name of safety.

If this all sounds a little backwards to you, listen up. Google’s studies have found that in instances where other vehicles are speeding, it is actually detrimental to safety for its driverless cars to hold steady at the speed limit.

As such, the Mountain View tech giant has given its self-driving vehicles the ability to go 16kph above national US speed limits.

"Thousands and thousands of people are killed in car accidents every year," Dmitri Dolgov, the lead software engineer on Google’s driverless car ‘moonshot’ project told Reuters. "This could change that."

He added that when traffic conditions and safety concerns warrant, the autonomous vehicles can travel 10mphabove speed limits.

Speed aside, experts have suggested there are still a few other mechanical and ethical issues surrounding the adoption of self-driving cars.

One such issue is the prioritisation of safety.

"Should a car try to protect its occupants at the expense of hitting pedestrians?" J. Christian Gerdes, Faculty Director of Stanford University’s REVS Institute for Automotive Research asked.

He added: “Will we accept it when machines make mistakes, even if they make far fewer mistakes than humans? We can significantly reduce risk, but I don't think we can drive it to zero."

Google has been working on its driverless car programme for a number of years, although there is still no plans for a widespread commercial release of the futuristic cars.

Read More: Driverless Cars: Everything you need to know

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