Waymo Leads the Way in California Self-Driving Tests

Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo unit’s fleet of 75 vehicles completed some 352,500 miles in autonomous driving mode in California during a recent 12-month period—nearly three times as many miles as the next highest tester.

Waymo reported 63 human takeovers—a rate of 0.178 disengagements per 1,000 miles driven—during tests between December 2016 and November 2017. The disengagement rate is down slightly from 2015 and 2016 levels, according to the company.

Waymo’s results compare with 125,000 autonomous miles driven by 96 vehicles operated in California by Cruise Automation, the Silicon Valley startup acquired in 2016 by General Motors Co. Cruise reported 105 disengagements for a rate of 079 per 1,000 miles driven.

No other company reported more than 7,000 miles of autonomous driving on public roads during the period. Another seven companies—including BMW, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen—had permits for the period but didn’t test on public roads.

Licensed testers are required to report mileage and disengagements to the California Dept. of Motor Vehicles. Disengagements fall into six broad categories. They may be “discrepancies” in hardware, software or vehicle perception of its surroundings.

Disengagements also may be triggered when an autonomous vehicle makes an unwanted maneuver or the vehicle encounters reckless behavior by human-driven vehicles nearby.