California is the world capital of testing for self-driving cars. With its warm weather and deep technology connections rooted in Silicon Valley, companies flock to the state. And each year, the 55 companies with valid permits to conduct such tests must report back to the state government. On Tuesday, we learned what they all did with their time in 2020.
The biggest players in the space, Waymo and Cruise, improved their metrics in terms of disengagements per number of miles driven. A disengagement is when the human backup driver has to take over because the self-driving system fails in some way. Google sister company Waymo was one of the best with just 21 disengagements in total in 2020, or a hiccup every 30,000 miles or so. Waymo’s total miles driven fell, however, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The company paused much of its operations last spring as the virus began to sweep across the US.