Waymo's self-driving tests in California have fewest human interventions

A Cruise self-driving car rides on 11th Street in San Francisco in 2017. The General Motors subsidiary logged many more autonomous miles last year

Its total disengagement rate dropped to around 0.18 events per 1,000 miles driven, which is about 5,555 miles between disengagements on average - better than Cruise's rate, though Cruise has claimed its focus on testing in dense urban settings like San Francisco makes its training more challenging. It accelerated its testing to prepare for its ride-hailing fleet's launch this year, allowing it to "gather as much data as possible in order to improve [its] technology".

Waymo, formerly Google's autonomous vehicle unit, logged 352,544 autonomous miles in the state with its 75 robot cars.

Every year, autonomous-car developers must submit a report to the California DMV about its "disengagements", or times when the human backup had to take control on public roads. Having driven more miles than any other company by an order of magnitude, and in over two dozen United States cities, the company doesn't seem to see the DMV's annual reports as indicative of its overall testing program anymore. We're guessing GM also has plans to expand its testing efforts this year, considering it's aiming to start selling cars without steering wheels in 2019. The company uses simulation, labs and test tracks around the world and its customer's vehicles test out autonomous tech using a "shadow mode" that generates data for its Autopilot system. It's worth noting, however, that most of those instances happened in the earlier part of the 12-month period, suggesting that the company's technology improved tremendously in the second half of 2017. A spokesperson touted the company's "1400 percent rate of improvement" in the performance of its autonomous systems.

One result of the sharp increase in GM's number of miles driven is a plethora of accidents. In the latter, most cars had to be controlled when driving on surface streets. That's one crash for every 5,985 miles of testing.

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February 1, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ New reports required by the California Department of Motor Vehicles from companies testing robot cars on the state's public roads show the technology is not safe unless it is monitored by a human behind a steering wheel who can take control, Consumer Watchdog said today. Crashes must be reported to the DMV and the reports are posted on the DMV's website.

No other company came close to racking up the same number of miles as Waymo and GM.

Bosch Tested three cars, logged 1,454 miles and had 598 disengagements. Some are testing their vehicles in other states or countries, or on closed-course proving grounds.

BMW, Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co., Chinese EV startup Nio and Volkswagen also reported driving zero autonomous miles during the year. And the fact that they applied for permits from the DMV seems to indicate they will be testing at some point down the road. Companies are only required to report disengagements if they've been permitted for the full year. More often than not, the reports are criticized from all sides, with the companies complaining about the amount of work that goes into their production, and academics and experts chiding their lack of context.


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