What Is A Disengagement In Autonomous Driving?

Published: September 16, 2021
Last updated: October 3, 2021

The autonomous vehicle industry is always making advances in the technology that goes into their vehicles, but it's still not perfect.  In order to increase software capabilities and safety, a number of companies are still testing their electric vehicles in California. Disengagements are a key part of the testing process. Disengagement occurs when the autonomous system stops working or when the safety driver believes it is necessary to take control of the vehicle in order to correct a potentially dangerous action or omission by the AV.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles has been requiring autonomous vehicle companies to submit “disengagement reports” since 2017. These annual requirements are due on January 1, detailing the number of times an AV operator had to disengage the car's autonomous driving function while testing the vehicle. As AVs get closer to widespread real-world deployment, this approach for monitoring AV performance as part of validation and regulation has been recommended.

According to statistics from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, 29 businesses indicated that they were constantly testing self-driving cars on public roads in the state. They drove a total of 1,955,208 miles in autonomous mode, including 3,695 disengagements. Google's Waymo is far ahead of the pack when it comes to faultless autonomy, with its fleet hitting 630,000 miles last year and 29,425 miles per disengagement.

The number of kilometers driven and the so-called disengagements are included in the figures mentioned above. As a result, when a safety driver takes control of the autonomous vehicle, this is referred to as disengagement. This estimate can then be applied to all deployed vehicles to see how long each manufacturer can drive autonomously. It is the best collection of figures available to the public today for gaining an overview of the state of self-driving technology from different manufacturers.

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Managing Editor Before joining Keep Driving, Elaine was an editor for an international internet technology consulting firm. She shows tremendous interest in writing about future technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learnings.
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