Waymo, the autonomous auto unit from Google parent company Alphabet, is far ahead of the competition in terms of self-driving miles logged on California roads, according to a new report from the California DMV.
These results are much more significant considering Waymo increased by half the miles driven by its vehicles a year ago, amounting to 635,868 in total.
According to The Verge, California's Department of Motor Vehicles' annual vehicle disengagement discloses the number of times that human drivers were needed to take control of their driverless vehicles tested on the state's public roads by various companies.
The report published Wednesday lists the number of times a driver had to take over for the autonomous system while driving - these are known as disengagements.
In the auto world, a disengagement is the number of times when the self-driving software was turned off and a driver had to take over from a self-driving vehicle. A disengagement is when a person takes control over the auto.
As Google highlights, disengagements per 1,000 miles have declined 75 percent year over year, from 0.8 in 2015 to 0.2 in 2016.
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While Tesla's Elon Musk has been bullish, talking about months rather than years, companies such as Waymo have suggested 2017 or 2018 is more realistic.
Ford Motor Co and Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz said their self-driving vehicles logged fewer than 1,000 miles each a year ago in California, while Honda Motor Co and Volkswagen AG said they did not test self-driving vehicles on public roads in the state. There's also no specific standard on how or when test drivers should decide to intervene and disengage the technology.
Released this week, the report includes submissions from all companies holding permits to test self-driving cars on public roads.
One of the main reasons why a low disengagement rate is a breakthrough is because Waymo uses the disengagements to gather valuable insights into real-world scenario and trains its AI software to learn.
With the 11 companies reporting 2648 disengagements in 2016, not everyone was ready to celebrate any improvements in the overall state of autonomous technology. These companies are also required to come up with their numbers regarding instances of disengagements and miles traveled while in self-driving mode.
General Motors Co together with its Cruise Automation associate managed to log approximately 10,000 miles in autonomous vehicle prototypes on California public roads.