April 1, 2012
Driverless Car In Custody For Impaired Driving
John Neumann for RedOrbit.com
This story was originally published on April 1st, 2012 as part of an April Fool's Day prank and promotion. It should in no way be considered as "real" news.
City police in Las Vegas received reports of a Toyota Prius driving erratically Saturday night of last week along the Strip and dispatched a squad car to investigate. This is not unusual for “Sin City” since it is a town filled with many bars and lots of nightlife.
However, when officers found the Toyota, it was making an illegal U-turn, whereupon officers attempted to pull over the driver. After driving behind the car for approximately 3 miles with no response from the car, officers pulled up alongside the vehicle to initiate a felony stop, only to discover it had no driver.
The Toyota was then identified as one of Google´s new driverless cars that are permitted to navigate Nevada roads, utilizing lasers, radar and GPS to avoid other traffic.
As the vehicle was driving in a hazardous manner and ignored repeated instructions from the officers, they were obligated to bring the car in for booking. The Prius was towed to the city jail and a cable was used to bolt it to a fence post to secure the vehicle from escape.
Attempts to call the search giant through customer service phone numbers were unsuccessful and the jail was invited to send an email that would be looked at by a Google representative in the order that it was received.
On Wednesday the Las Vegas police received a live chat request from Google representative Sanjaya Malakar to resolve the issue. Malakar apologized for the trouble but claimed he would have to bump this problem to his manager.
Captain Griffith was quoted on the matter saying, “This vehicle was driving erratically and appeared impaired. It is bound by law to appear in front of a judge to answer to the charges but obviously we cannot process the case. We do not even have a name for the car or proof of insurance.”
“We have moved the vehicle to a locked parking lot behind the jail and off-duty officers enjoy sitting in it checking their Facebook and playing Angry Birds with the navigation system in the dashboard.”
Google has said little publicly about its self-driving car project after being first announced in 2010. Internet rumors abound saying it is an attempt to apply the fictional SkyNet technology from the Terminator films into real life. Leading to self-directed surveillance drones, military vehicles and armed robots to keep order after a societal breakdown.
A public affairs spokeswoman for Google, Penny Goodfellow, publicly denied such rumors, but suggested that the vehicle in question had been programmed by a recently divorced engineer and Google´s personality algorithm may have translated some of his mental state into the vehicles instructions.
“The company apologizes for any trouble our vehicle may have caused and we will certainly take steps to ensure this never happens again.”
When asked if the engineer personally was to be responsible for the traffic incident, she said no. “The engineer was asleep in his home in California during the incident. We do not blame him.”
Griffith suggested that they may pursue the case naming Google Corporation as the responsible party. “New corporate personhood statutes gives us cause to pursue the legal case naming Google as the driver.”
Goodfellow forwarded this line of questioning to Google lawyers who have not responded.
Griffith concluded by saying that no matter how this case is resolved, he and the other personnel of the central jail would miss the Prius after it leaves. “We have come to love the little fella. He is like a mascot for the station.”