Every year, the California Department of Motor Vehicles posts detailed information about the companies testing self-driving cars in the state. This year’s data shows that the Cupertino tech giant completed 18.805 miles of self-driving testing in California during 2020, which is more than double what was reported in 2019.
Apple also reported 130 disengagements, the number of times a human driver had to take over, up from 64. The differences in the data compiled by the DMV shows that Apple’s technology has gradually improved over the last few years.
Apple doubled road tests of self-driving cars in 2020
A recent report from the DMV shows that over the course of 2020, vehicles equipped with Apple’s self-driving technology traveled a total of 28.805 miles in California, up from 7,544 miles traveled in 2019. The total number of disengagements was 130, up from 64 last year, however, that is not a surprise considering the increase in mileage.
Apple’s self-driving cars experienced a disengagement every 144.6 miles which is a better metric than 2019 where there was a disengagement every 117.8 miles. Self-driving car disengagement reports break down the number of times a human driver had to take over control of an autonomous driving system. This also includes the system itself handing over controls, or when the human steps in to take control.
In California, every company that is testing self-driving vehicles is required to file annual disengagement reports giving details on how many times a vehicle disengages and gives back control to the driver, or the number of times a safety driver in the vehicle takes over.
Additionally, companies are also required to report the total mileage covered by self-driving cars and give details on any incidents that happened. Apple has not had a recent accident, in fact, the last collision an Apple car faced was back in 2019. From the DMV’s program of self-driving vehicles:
Autonomous vehicle manufacturers that are testing vehicles in the Autonomous Vehicle Tester (AVT) Program and AVT Driverless Program are required to submit annual reports to share how often their vehicles disengaged from autonomous mode during tests (whether because of technology failure or situations requiring the test driver/operator to take manual control of the vehicle to operate safely).
Here is how Apple’s self-driving testing in California has progressed over the last three years:
- 2020: 18,805 miles, 6.91 disengagements per 1,000 miles
- 2019: 7,544 miles, 8.35 disengagements per 1,000 miles
- 2018: 79,745 miles, 871.65 disengagements per 1,000 miles
Since 2017, the tech giant has been involved in testing its autonomous software using Lexus RX450h SUVs consisting of cameras and sensors. Since then there have been numerous reports and rumors regarding the possibility of an Apple Car, but it is all hearsay unless or until the tech giant says its peace.