Google Waymo Performing Better Than Other Self-Driving Cars, Says California DMV

Posted February 03, 2017

Waymo's self-driving technology head Dmitri Dolgov wrote a detailed blog post on Medium celebrating the feat.

Google now boasts an impressive number of 60 self driving cars and their decision to increase miles travelled by 50% has seen disengagements fall from to 0.8 times per 1,000 miles in 2015 to 0.2 times in 2016.

In 2015 the cars ran 424,331 miles with 341 disengagements, and previous year mileage increased to 635,868 while disengagement sharply fell to 124 times.

Waymo saw fewer disengagements with the self-driving technology in 2016 compared to 2015, according to report submitted by the company. But the number of disengagement incidents fell from 341 to just 124.

Waymo says that all of its testing time has taken place on "complex" urban and suburban roads versus testing facilities and that its these conditions that've caused the increase in performance.

The documents catalog the number of times from December 2015 through the end of November that humans took control from a car's software for safety-related reasons. The disengagement report tracks not only the times the AI-software is turned off during accidents or even fender benders, but also those momentary lapses when AI is turned off to update the software or even while fixing a bug. That means Waymo's self-driving cars have a lower disengagement rate despite the fact that they are driving a whole lot more miles.

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"Disengagement" refers to a situation where the autonomous vehicle required a human operator to step in and take control of the vehicle. This is based on a report published on Wednesday by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Tesla's 2015 report specified that it did not have any disengagements to report.

Tesla's disengagement report said four prototypes drove a total of 885.1 km last autumn, experiencing 182 disengagements - the equivalent of 3,309 disengagements every 16,093 km. The disengagement rate is measure in rates of incidence per 1,000 miles. This includes Tesla, which also ran limited disengagement tests on its cars.

Meanwhile BMW recorded one disengagement in its 638 miles of autonomous driving in March and April 2016, because lane markings on Highway 101 were not clear enough.

With the 11 companies reporting 2648 disengagements in 2016, not everyone was ready to celebrate any improvements in the overall state of autonomous technology.

Late a year ago, Tesla began testing four autonomous cars on public roads in its home state.