Tesla is testing self driving cars on California roads

Four Tesla vehicles travelled a total of 885 km with 182 disengagements, corresponding to 0.33 disengagements per autonomous mile


The self-driving car firms are required to disclose the number of disengagements when a human driver needs to take control to avoid an accident or respond to technical problems. Photo: Bloomberg
The self-driving car firms are required to disclose the number of disengagements when a human driver needs to take control to avoid an accident or respond to technical problems. Photo: Bloomberg

San Francisco: Tesla Motors Inc. started testing four self-driving cars on California’s public roads late last year, a milestone for chief executive officer Elon Musk who is planning an autonomous road trip from Los Angeles to New York by the end of 2017.

Companies with permits to test autonomous vehicles in the state are required to disclose the number of “disengagements,” or episodes when a human driver needs to take control to avoid an accident or respond to technical problems.

Seven companies—Volkswagen AG, Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo, Delphi Automotive, Tesla, Robert Bosch GmbH and Nissan Motor Co.—first submitted reports last year. The latest reports were made public Wednesday by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

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Tesla’s autopilot technology is a driver assistance feature, and the company didn’t file a disengagement report from 2015. But four Tesla vehicles travelled a total of 885 km (550 miles) on California public roads in October and November 2016 with 182 disengagements, according to a filing with the California DMV. That’s 0.33 disengagements per autonomous mile. Tesla reported that there were “no emergencies, accidents or collisions.”

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.

Waymo had a much lower rate of disengagements in 2016, improving to about 0.2 disengagements per thousand miles from 0.8 a year earlier. Chief executive officer John Krafcik first shared the data during a speech at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month.

Based on that metric, Tesla disclosed a rate of about 330 disengagements per thousand miles, although the company’s vehicles travelled much fewer miles than Waymo’s on California public roads last year.

Many manufacturers conduct their own testing and validation and have vehicles on the roads in other countries and other US states. Bloomberg

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