Waymo says its self-driving cars saw 'four-fold' improvement previous year

Waymo's self-driving tech got a lot better in 2016

Understandably, it is a much more complex task to accomplish and cut close to Waymo's dreams of providing door-to-door autonomous driving service once it launches publicly.

But John Simpson of the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog said the number of disengagements shows the cars still "simply aren't ready to be released to roam our roads" without human backup drivers. This makes the low disengagement rate even more of an achievement.

Over the 635,868 miles Google's autonomous cars were on California's roads previous year, drivers needed to take control 124 times, down from 341 instances in 2015 when the vehicles drove 424,331 autonomous miles.

"This has given us valuable experience sharing the road safely with pedestrians and cyclists", head of Waymo's self-driving tech Dmitri Dolgov writes on Medium. In 2015, the company had 0.8 disengagements for every 1,000 miles.

However, companies have to secure permits from the state's DMV before they can test self-driving vehicles on public roads. The list of disengagements includes the VIN of the autonomous vehicle, the date and cause of disengagement, the weather, road class and even the time it took for the driver to resume control.


According to The Verge, California's Department of Motor Vehicles' annual vehicle disengagement discloses the number of times that human drivers were needed to take control of their driverless vehicles tested on the state's public roads by various companies. The company says that since 2015, its rate of safety-related disengages has fallen from 0.8 per thousand miles to 0.2 per thousand miles in 2016. The report includes all the companies that test their autonomous cars in California and measures how many times human drivers had to take control of the vehicle in order to avoid mishaps on the road.

Nissan Motor Co also tested some electric cars with self-driving systems, including two Infiniti Q50 Sedans and three Leafs. During those 550 miles, Tesla's system disengaged 182 times. Mercedes reported 336 disengagement over 673 miles in autonomous mode.

Here's a breakdown for each company that submitted a report. Waymo has been submitting reports since at least 2015. These companies are also required to come up with their numbers regarding instances of disengagements and miles traveled while in self-driving mode.

Waymo is the newest company under Alphabet's umbrella.

General Motors Co together with its Cruise Automation associate managed to log approximately 10,000 miles in autonomous vehicle prototypes on California public roads.

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