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Published on : Feb 01, 2018

When it comes to self-driving cars, which are yet to go mainstream, jury is still out on what should be the precise testing parameters. However, based one specific metric set by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Alphabet Inc., stole a march over its rivals. The parameter is the number of “disengagements.”

To elaborate a bit further, California Department of Motors, requires automakers, startups, and technology companies having self-driving vehicles on public roads to provide a compilation of miles travelled annually in the autonomous mode and the “disengagement” number.

Limited Human Intervention Helps Waymo Come Out with Flying Colors

Disengagements results from the deactivation of the self-driving system - a circumstance under which humans are forced to take back control owing to system failure or weather, traffic, or road situation that need human intervention.

The metric is important to gauge the reliability of any self-driving system. Regulators, however, are yet to determine how safe autonomous vehicles must be before they start plying the roads in large numbers and this could take a good ten years or more to happen.

The recent report on disengagement revealed that Waymo vehicles logged 5,596 miles on average without the drivers having to retake control over the wheel due to disengagement from December 2016 through November 2017. Cruise, owned by General Motors Co, trailed Waymo in the test result by clocking 1,214 miles on average between disengagements.

Autonomous vehicles are still being tested on public roads and improvised, particularly in California where law requires a person to be present in the driver’s seat to take over control when needed.