Apple's self-driving cars disengage from autonomous mode about once per mile, highest rate...

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 12
Fresh statistics from California's Department of Motor Vehicles reveals Apple's self-driving car testbed as the worst performing system on the road in terms of disengagements, or instances when the vehicle is forced to exit autonomous mode and return control to a human pilot.

Apple Car TestbedApple's self-driving car testbed spotted in California.


From December 2018 through November 2019, Apple's fleet of heavily modified Lexus RX450h SUVs recorded an average of 871.65 disengagements for every 1,000 miles traveled, putting the company in last place among 28 firms testing autonomous vehicles on California roads. The tech giant said it had 62 cars in operation in 2018, suggesting a few vehicles were pulled from service since the company reported a fleet of 66 cars in June.

As noted by The Last Driver License Holder, which compiled the DMV data, a disengagement refers to a situation in which a self-driving vehicle's autonomous systems are unable to process current conditions, forcing it to pass control back to the human driver. Instances when a human manually retakes the wheel or overrides a car's decision also count as disengagements.

Disengagement protocols enable manufacturers to evaluate autonomous systems on public roads while ensuring the safety of other motorists and pedestrians. These failsafes are not always effective, as evidenced by a handful of high-profile accidents involving self-driving cars. Apple saw its first fender bender last August.

On the other end of the spectrum was Google's Waymo, which managed an impressive 0.09 disengagements per 1,000 miles, or one disengagement every 11,154 miles, over the same period. GM Cruise vehicles were able to log an average of 5,204 miles between disengagements, while Zoox saw its systems hand back control every 2,000 miles.

Testbeds from Qualcomm, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and SAIC sat at the bottom of the pile, eking out disengagement rates of one every 2.4, 2.2, 1.5 and 1.2 miles, respectively.

The data made available by California's DMV is not complete, as reports typically include the total number of disengagements and miles driven for each company. According to the limited dataset that did see release, companies testing cars in the state logged a cumulative 73,550 disengagements over 2,009,474 miles traveled in autonomous mode.

Companies evaluating self-driving cars in California must record and report disengagements as part of a statutory operating permit. The state's DMV requires manufacturers to submit disengagement reports on Jan. 1 of each year, with information contained within covering a period from issuance through Nov. 30 of the following year. Apple received its permit in 2017 -- Apple's Lexus SUVs were first spotted in April of that year -- meaning the company's initial report was due on Jan. 1, 2019.

Apple's self-driving car project is something of an open secret in Silicon Valley. Initially in development under the "Project Titan" banner, the program sought to create a branded car from whole cloth, with an anticipated launch date in 2020. Apple scaled back its ambitious goal in late 2016 after hitting a number of snags. The Titan team has since refocused attention to autonomous vehicle subsystems, and a fully-operation vehicle is not expected until 2023, if at all.

In January, reports claimed Apple axed more than 200 employees from the project as it refocuses attention to the wider development of autonomous systems and technologies.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 51
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,296member
    Waiting for the slough of posts calling this story troll-bait, uninformed, etc...

    I have no idea how accurate this is, but given the fact that Apple is later to the self-driving car game than other players, it would not be surprising if it's true. They're just further back on the development curve.
    anantksundaramcurtis hannah
  • Reply 2 of 51
    roakeroake Posts: 630member
    Very conservative parameters would also result in frequent disengagements.
    jdgaztmaysphericmuthuk_vanalingamsmalmkrreagan2MacProgordoncomstockentropyslolliver
  • Reply 3 of 51
    I wonder if the data they’ve been collecting from their Didi (basically the Chinese “Uber”) collaboration will only be allowed to apply to China-based autonomous car service in the future...
  • Reply 4 of 51
    copperfilecopperfile Posts: 4unconfirmed, member
    Why was Tesla's data omitted?
    curtis hannahlolliver
  • Reply 5 of 51
    It's tenuous to draw conclusions on best/worst performance from disengagement figures - since there is no standard for when to disengage and companies like Apple (and some of the other brands with high disengagements) are going to be much more protective of their brand.

    That said I wouldn't expect apple to be leading the pack since other competitors have been working in this space for longer.

    But when reading disengagement figures, keep in mind the number and seriousness of incidents. Apple have had just two - both not at fault (including one where the AI wasn't at play.) Now contrast this with companies such as Uber, where the AI didn't detect a pedestrian, resulting in a fatality.


    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 6 of 51
    on the plus side apples is the only car tontine travel, great to see they already have all the data till November 2019 so they know now what they need to fix before doing the test drives
  • Reply 7 of 51
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,569member
    Why was Tesla's data omitted?
    Because Tesla’s aren’t fully autonomous in all driving conditions?
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 8 of 51
    jdgazjdgaz Posts: 354member
    If you want to be the best you have to have tight testing parameters.
    mac_dog
  • Reply 9 of 51
    jdwjdw Posts: 733member
    Apple can't even get Siri to work properly, so this news comes as no surprise at all.  It's very disheartening.
    JWSCLatkopatchythepirate
  • Reply 10 of 51
    Why was Tesla's data omitted?
    They're likely testing outside the state of CA to avoid disclosing stats. Read into that however you'd like.
  • Reply 11 of 51
    rcfarcfa Posts: 762member
    There are two questions to be asked:

    a) learning algorithms depends on data; so if you start later and with fewer cars, you’ll lag initially behind, even with a better base model. So the question is: how quickly are things improving?

    b) are there uniform standards for disengagement, or is Apple simply more careful during testing to avoid negative press and/or keep competition in the dark on their progress?
    randominternetpersonmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 12 of 51
    MplsP said:
    Waiting for the slough of posts calling this story troll-bait, uninformed, etc...

    I have no idea how accurate this is, but given the fact that Apple is later to the self-driving car game than other players, it would not be surprising if it's true. They're just further back on the development curve.
    Also the fact that Apple is keeping it to small scale to keep it out of publicity doesn't help make them develop faster either.
  • Reply 13 of 51
    This article would be more accurate if the penultimate paragraph included a few "allegedly"s and "according to leaks and rumors."
    edited February 12 lolliver
  • Reply 14 of 51
    roake said:
    Very conservative parameters would also result in frequent disengagements.
    Not only that, but Apple's autonomous car system is more challenging because it does not rely as much on maps.  It will be a more flexible and adaptable autonomous system that maximizes AI.

    "Eschewing reliance on maps can help Apple create a more versatile autonomous car system, but it poses a larger technical and computational hurdle."

    https://www.businessinsider.com/new-apple-patent-self-driving-cars-minimize-map-usage-2017-12

    edited February 13 beowulfschmidtradarthekatmacplusplus
  • Reply 15 of 51
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,717member
    jdw said:
    Apple can't even get Siri to work properly, so this news comes as no surprise at all.  It's very disheartening.
    When your Apple Car Crashes Siri will display a list of body shops ... 2000 miles away.
    avon b7patchythepirate
  • Reply 16 of 51
    That's about once every minute. Very stressful for the human driver.
  • Reply 17 of 51
    But it crashed less than the Microsoft car 
    lolliver
  • Reply 18 of 51
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,684member
    Since we’re still a few years away from full automation, it’s much ado about nothing. 
    muthuk_vanalingambeowulfschmidtradarthekatlolliver
  • Reply 19 of 51
    jdw said:
    Apple can't even get Siri to work properly, so this news comes as no surprise at all.  It's very disheartening.

    How is it disheartening? It gives you an excuse to diss Apple and display false concern. That should make your day.
    kruegdudeEsquireCatsradarthekatlolliver
  • Reply 20 of 51
    ...
    edited February 13
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