On February 29, the California Department of Motor Vehicles issued a series of “2019 Autonomous Driving Disengagement Reports.” The term “disengagement” refers to the number of miles driven by autonomous vehicles and how often human drivers were forced to take control of the vehicles actively testing their systems on public roads in California. The reports were compiled based on the data that the companies are required to share with the California DMV by law.
Some of the biggest highlights from this year’s report are China’s Baidu, AutoX, Pony.ai and Didi, who made it to the top ten best performing companies. Baidu’s Apollo project even managed to surpass Google’s Waymo as the best performing company for the first time.
According to the report, Baidu’s four AVs in California drove 108,300 miles, with a mere six disengagements in 2019, resulting in a disengagement rate of 0.055 per 1,000 self-driven miles, a major improvement over the 4.86 disengagements per 1,000 miles the year before. Waymo’s disengagement rates also improved from 0.09 per 1,000 self-driven miles to 0.076 per 1,000 self-driven miles, still falling short of Baidu’s metrics.
The cars of another Chinese company, Pony.ai, drove 174,845 miles and experienced 27 disengagements. In 2019, Pony.ai’s vehicles would experience a disengagement every 6,476 miles. The company has made great progress since 2018, when a disengagement would occur once every 1,022 miles.
Currently only five companies have permits to transport passengers in autonomous vehicles in California, including Aurora, AutoX, Pony.ai, Waymo, and Zoox.