MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Google Inc. had operated its self-driving cars for over 1.3 million miles by the end of November 2015, which makes it the car maker that has driven the most miles in the autonomous mode in California. Of that total, 424,331 were driven on the state’s public roads, while most were in a suburban area in and around Mountain View. Seashels seashells

Car manufacturers testing driverless vehicles in California recently submitted “disengagement reports” to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, informing the frequency of tech fails that have required the autonomous cars to be taken over a human driver. Aside from Google, the handful of car makers include Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Delphi, Bosch, Tesla, and Nissan.

Google self-driving car prototype, already tested on the streets. Photo: Google.
Google self-driving car prototype, already tested on the streets. Photo: Google.

While Google is a step further with the most autonomous miles driven, the web giant reported 272 incidents in which a tech failure forced the test driver to take control. These events occurred between September 2014 and November 2015, with 69 incidents involving safety issues.

Google stated in the report that its goal was not to reduce disengagements, but to collect as much data as possible that allowed researchers to improve the driverless system.

“The rate of these simulated contact disengagements is declining even as autonomous miles driven increase. Because the simulated contact events are so few in number, they do not lend themselves well to trend analysis, but, we are generally driving more autonomous miles between these events”, the report noted.

The company explained the evaluation process that consists of finding disengagements that may be caused by safety issues and resolving them by modifying the software, firmware, or hardware, as well as adding some changes researchers consider appropriate to make across the entire fleet of vehicles.

Google also pointed out that disengagements were normal in every testing process and that “the vast majority are considered routine and not related to safety”. According to the report, Google’s fleet of autonomous cars are averaging to 30,000 to 40,000 miles per month.

Compared to driving on highways, driverless cars’ operations in an urban environment involves more complex road systems and intersections. Navigating around cyclists and pedestrians also complicates operations. Given that fact 89% of disengagements happened in complex street environment. Google said that an average American driver usually spends most driving miles on less complex roads such as freeways.

On the other hand, Tesla has managed to record zero driverless mode disengagements, the only auto maker to achieve that. In contrast, in 14 months, Volkswagen reported 1,087 and 2,573 disengagements for test cars Igor and Jack, respectively.

Source: PC Magazine