Self-driving Road test report on California DMV in 2021: Chinese companies are leading the way
On Feb 9, the California Department of Vehicles (DMV) released its self-driving Road Test Report 2021.The annual DMV autonomous road test report, provided by companies licensed to conduct open autonomous driving tests in California, includes the number of vehicles they tested, the number of miles they tested, and the number of human interventions by drivers during the tests.Since its launch in 2015, the report has gradually become one of the criteria by which autonomous driving is judged.Currently, 50 companies have valid permits to test self-driving cars in California with safety drivers, and seven have permits to test driverless vehicles without safety officers.According to the latest report, 1,180 autonomous vehicles from 28 companies tested on California roads drove more than 4.1 million miles last year (Dec. 1, 2020, through Nov. 30, 2021), nearly double the number in 2020.Of the 1,180 vehicles, Waymo operated the most with 693, followed by Cruise with 138.Waymo and Cruise also topped the list in terms of miles tested, with Waymo accounting for half of all vehicle miles tested, while Chinese self-driving startup Pony Zhixing ranked third.Companies also differ in terms of the number of takeovers.But companies’ progress can also be seen in the average miles a vehicle drives itself between human interventions.Waymo, for example, reported that its self-driving vehicles needed a safety officer to take over every 7,965 miles they drove in 2021, four times as many as in 2020. This may have something to do with Waymo’s complete shift of focus from Mountain View to San Francisco for its road-testing routes,San Francisco’s roads are far more complicated for self-driving cars (and human drivers).Another reason Waymo’s safety officers are intervening more frequently with self-driving vehicles is said to be the company’s use of a new vehicle. The Chrysler Pacifica minivans that previously formed the mainstay of Waymo’s self-driving fleet, but now the all-electric Jaguar iPace, seem to pose a bit more of a challenge than expected.Gm’s Cruise, which has been developing self-driving cars in San Francisco since its inception, has seen its fleet of autonomous vehicles take over every 41,719 miles (66,751km), down nearly 50% from the 2020 level of 45,632km.AutoX, a China-based startup whose vehicles travel 50,108 miles between human interventions, topped the list.Yet the company’s cumulative test miles are 46th of Waymo’s.Similarly, Argo.AI, which measured 36,734 miles last year, had only one human safety intervention.Four of the seven companies with driverless (driverless) road testing licenses (Baidu Apollo, Cruise, Nuro and Ma Zhixing) reported driverless road testing data. Last year, their vehicles drove a total of 24,982 miles.At the end of last year, however, Ma Zhi Hang had voluntarily revoked its self-driving license because of a road test accident.In 2021, Tesla will once again be absent from its self-driving road test at the DMV due to a different definition of a self-driving test vehicle.Tesla’s current explanation for its FSD beta is that it’s a driver assistance system that doesn’t have to be reported to the DMV and is currently used in about 60,000 customer vehicles.California is currently working to close the gap with companies in terms of understanding and interpretation of driverless cars.On the other hand, in its current state of development, Apple does not appear to be a serious competitor in the autonomous driving space, and the company’s reported numbers are still far behind those of the leading companies.It is worth mentioning that many Chinese enterprises have begun to take the lead in this field, and have made great efforts to this end. In all the measurement indicators, Chinese companies rank in the forefront, among which AutoX, Ma Zhixing and Wen Yuanzhixing have outstanding comprehensive performance.Conclusion: Last year, the autonomous driving sector continued to make progress, with the mileage of each vehicle on the road increasing. However, new cities and regions, as well as new fleets, also brought challenges for enterprises.Most notably, for the first time, driverless road testing (without the need for a safety officer) has been included in the DMV’s autonomous road testing report. While last year’s total was just over 20,000 miles, a huge leap forward is expected in 2022, as Waymo is about to launch driverless taxis in San Francisco,Cruise is expected to expand its driverless business, which was previously limited to operating between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.