Alphabet’s Waymo Leads California Self-Driving Testing, Says State DMV

Waymo, née Google’s self-driving car project, logged more miles with fewer system disengagements than any other company, according to a new report from the state’s DMV.

byJosh Condon|
Self-Driving Tech photo

Report Notes Waymo Logged More Miles With Fewer Human Interventions

Waymo, the autonomous car 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. In fact, in 2016 Waymo recorded 30 times more miles than all of its competitors combined—and the company had the fewest autonomous disengagements, with a human driver needing to take control only 0.2 times per thousand miles logged, down from 0.8 times per thousand in 2015. 

BMW, Ford, and Nissan followed Waymo as the companies with the most accurate systems according to the data (which does not account for the varied conditions) with 1.6-, 5.1-, and 6.8 system disengagements per thousand miles driven, respectively. Tesla, which only started testing in CA in October, reported 330 disengagements per thousand miles and ranked ahead of Mercedes-Benz (499 per thousand miles) but behind GM Cruise (18.5) and Delphi (57). 

Bosch had a noticeably higher disengagement rate than the other companies, with 1,466 disengagements per thousand miles driven; a spokesman said the company's testing is for "advanced development," often on behalf of customers, and "is likely for a different reason than [the other companies listed]," according to The Financial Times

Some companies, like Honda and Volkswagen, are licensed to test in California but have thus far declined to test in the state.

Waymo Responds

Dmitri Dolgov, head of self-driving technology at Waymo, wrote in a Medium post following the CA DMV report that the improvement "reflects the significant work we’ve been doing to make our software and hardware more capable and mature." He continued: 

And because we’re creating a self-driving car that can take you from door to door, almost all our time has been spent on complex urban or suburban streets. This has given us valuable experience sharing the road safely with pedestrians and cyclists, and practicing advanced maneuvers such as making unprotected left turns and traversing multi-lane intersections.

Dmitri Dolgov, Waymo 

Noticeably absent from the list is Uber, which as of December had begun testing its self-driving fleet in California, but without the proper testing permits from the state, and was quickly shut down.

California is the only state to require companies testing autonomous vehicles to report miles logged and system disengagements. You can read find the DMV's full list here, and Waymo's full disengagements report here.