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Reports Hint At Technology's Progress In Testing Self-Driving Cars


Companies that test self-driving cars on California roads have made a glimpse of their progress public in new state filings. But, fully autonomous vehicles are likely still a ways off.

Eleven companies testing self-driving cars in California filed “disengagement reports” with the Department of Motor Vehicles. They show times human drivers took manual control over the vehicles.

Google, which is spinning off its self-driving business under the name WayMo, logged far more miles on California roads than the rest put together. The company reports that in 2016, test drivers only had to switch auto-driving mode off an average of once every five thousand miles.

“That’s to be expected,” says UC Berkeley research engineer Steve Shladover. He also says the technology is improving, but it still has a long ways to go.

“We have to remember how rare the actual serious crashes are that happen today. So fatal crashes are about 1 in a hundred million miles.” 

According to Shladover, autonomous cars will need to be at least as safe as humans before drivers let them take over.    

Daniel Potter


Daniel Potter started out as an intern at Nashville Public Radio, where he worked as a general assignment reporter for six years, covering everything from tornadoes to the statehouse.   Read Full Bio 

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