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Waymo testing —
Rivals would be foolish to dismiss Waymo’s impressive milestone.
Waymo’s self-driving cars have driven 10 million miles on public roads, the company announced on Wednesday. That puts the company way, way ahead of any of its rivals. Only one other company has announced more than a million miles of testing. And that was Uber, which announced 2 million miles last year but was forced to freeze its public testing after a deadly crash in March.
The milestone is one of many signs that Waymo has a sizable lead in the race to commercialize driverless car technology. Waymo says it is planning to launch a taxi service in the Phoenix area before the end of the year. One of Waymo’s leading rivals, GM’s Cruise, is aiming to launch a commercial taxi service next year. Most other companies working on driverless car technology aren’t planning commercial launches until the early 2020s.
Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica | Rivals say testing miles are an overrated metric
If you talk to Waymo’s rivals, most of them are quick to dismiss the significance of testing miles. They argue that quality is far more important than quantity when it comes to driverless car testing. It’s easy to rack up a lot of miles driving the same routes over and over again, they say, but that may not actually prove very much about the quality of its technology. Uber’s deadly car crash is a case in point: at the time of the crash, Uber was second only to Waymo in testing miles, but its technology was deeply flawed.
It’s an argument that has been made forcefully by Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise, the GM-backed driverless car company that is arguably Waymo’s most formidable competitor. Cruise’s latest report to California regulators, filed early this year, showed that the company had logged only 131,000 miles on public roads between December 2016 and November 2017 (for comparison, Waymo accumulated 350,000 in California and many more in Arizona and elsewhere). But the bulk of that testing was in urban San Francisco, and Vogt pointed out in a blog post last year that San Francisco is a much more challenging environment for driverless cars than the Phoenix area, where Waymo does a lot of its testing.
“Our vehicles encounter challenging (and often absurd) situations up to 46 times more often than other places self-driving cars are tested,” Vogt wrote. Vogt Specifically compared Cruise’s San Francisco testing to the Phoenix suburbs, where Waymo (and at the time, Uber) were performing a lot of their tests.
There’s a lot of merit to this argument. A major goal of real-world testing, especially early in the development process, is to encounter difficult and unusual situations. And a car is obviously going to encounter more tricky situations per mile in San Francisco than in Chandler, Arizona.
Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica | Racking up miles is essential before a commercial launch
But the goal of testing changes a bit when a company is getting close to releasing a commercial service. In