Going by the new disengagement report published by the California Department of Motor Vehicles concerning Waymo’s (Google’s) self-driving vehicle tech, it appears that things are improving rapidly.
The new report shows that Waymo’s self-driving vehicles had considerably fewer disengagements (times the self-driving tech has be turned off) during 2016 than in 2015 (in California).
Tech Crunch provides more:
“This is huge news for Waymo in terms of its progress towards bringing a fully self-driving vehicle to customers via a production vehicle or ride-sharing service. Waymo’s self-driving technology lead Dmitri Dolgov explained why in a blog post celebrating the company’s progress, where he outlined that the tech actually achieved a 4-fold improvement in its disengagement rate, as measured in the rate of episodes per 1,000 miles. The company register 0.80 disengagements (again, just times the self-driving software was turned off, not actual accidents) in 2015, versus only 0.20 in 2016.
“Dolgov also notes that this is mostly achieved in city and suburban driving situations, too, which are most complex and which Waymo is focused on in order to make sure its technology can truly offer door-to-door service when it becomes available to the public. And while the disengagements might be few and far between, Dolgov also says that each one is crucial in terms of providing valuable learning for the system, with a rigorous process of building similar scenarios from which the learning software can benefit for each time the software has to be turned off. Waymo also tunes the system and its test engineers to err on the conservative side in terms of making the call to disengage, which makes the low rate for 2016 even more impressive.”
To provide exact figures here, Waymo’s self-driving cars in California experienced a total of 124 disengagements in 2016, as compared to 341 in 2015. The firm’s self-driving vehicles traveled a total of 635,868 miles in 2016 in California.