Waymo's cars are getting a lot better at autonomous driving

Waymo self-driving minivan

Disengagements, or the driver taking over from self-driving software, are one of the most important metrics when it comes to the testing of self-driving cars.

The number of times, the human hand had to steer the vehicle manual has decreased a lot as compared to the past.

It must be noted that Tesla has many more miles of automated drive data under its belt, as the report does not include the Autopilot miles the company regularly logs.

Dmitri Dolgov, Waymo's head of self-driving technology, said he is "happy with our progress" and optimistic that self-driving cars can soon make a difference to road safety. The disengagement rate is measure in rates of incidence per 1,000 miles. They also list the number of times that autonomous software disengaged-either of its own accord (because, for example, it didn't know how to interpret and maneuver through a given environment) or at the discretion of the human driver (because, for example, the software didn't recognize a problem, like an obstacle in the road or another vehicle).

The state released Wednesday its yearly "disengagement" report, a record of instances where human drivers had to take control of test driverless cars to avoid incidents or to test a feature in the car's autonomous system. That's down from 0.8 disengagements per 1,000 miles in 2015.




Google's decision to make its autonomous-driving division an independent entity under the Alphabet Inc. umbrella is paying off. Waymo's self-driving algorithm registered much lesser disengagements in 2016 than it did in 2015 in California where the cars are being tested. There's also no specific standard on how or when test drivers should decide to intervene and disengage the technology.

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. That's a significant technical improvement for a company that, on the business end, said last month it had devised a way to reduce the cost of crucial sensors such as radar and lidar by more than 90 percent.

General Motors Co.'s Cruise, BMW, Honda Motor Co. and Ford Motor Co. were required to submit disengagement reports to California for the first time this year.

Tesla's dedication to developing autonomous vehicles is not new.

General Motors Co and its Cruise Automation affiliate logged almost 10,000 miles in self-driving vehicles on California roads.

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