MOUNTAIN VIEW, California — Google's self-driving cars logged far more miles in California than similar prototypes operated by Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Volkswagen/Audi and Delphi, with a much lower rate of incidents requiring the automated systems to disengage and hand manual control to the driver, according to annual reports filed this month with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
Google has said it has no plans to become a vehicle manufacturer and that it is talking with a variety of automakers about partnering on the development and production of self-driving cars.
In a 14-month period from September 2014 to November 2015, Google said its self-driving cars had logged more than 424,000 miles on California roads. During that period, there were 272 incidents where the automated systems were disengaged. Such incidents included software and hardware malfunctions, as well as 69 situations "in which safe operation of the vehicle required disengagement" of the automated system by the driver, Google said.
The Internet search giant, which has been developing self-driving cars since 2009, said it ran computer simulations of those incidents. Google determined that without driver intervention, the cars might have made contact with another object — a vehicle or, in some cases, a traffic cone — in 13 of those events.
Google said the number of incidents fell rapidly as it refined its self-driving hardware and software. The company said its self-driving cars had far fewer "disengagements" between May and November 2015, even as they logged more test miles on public roads — 30,000-40,000 per month.
Mercedes-Benz said that its self-driving prototypes logged more than 1,700 miles on California roads from September 2014 to November 2015, with 1,031 incidents requiring disengagement of the automated systems.
Nissan/Infiniti self-driving prototypes logged 1,485 miles on California roads from November 2014 to November 2015, with 106 incidents requiring disengagement of the automated systems.
Volkswagen/Audi self-driving prototypes logged nearly 15,000 miles on California roads from September 2014 to November 2015, with 260 incidents requiring disengagement of the automated systems.
Delphi, a supplier of automated systems and components to carmakers, said its self-driving prototypes logged more than 16,600 miles on California roads from October 2014 to November 2015, with 405 incidents requiring disengagement of the automated systems.
Edmunds says: It's still early days for development of self-driving cars, but Google and others appear to be making good progress.