Companies with permits to test autonomous vehicles in California with a safety driver reported they drove nearly 2.9 million miles during the most recent reporting period, according to disengagement reports recently submitted to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
The 60 annual reports submitted to the DMV from the 64 companies with permits to operate in California summarizing the disengagements – meaning the safety driver had to control – showed the test vehicles traveled approximately 2.88 million miles in autonomous mode on California’s public roads during the reporting period, which ended Dec. 31, 2019.
The total number of miles driven is an increase of more than 800,000 miles, roughly a 40% jump, from the previous reporting cycle, the California DMV said.
The agency also said there 859 permitted test vehicles for travel on California’s streets and highways and 2,812 permitted safety drivers, which offers a glimpse at the scope of the effort going into developing autonomous vehicles. even as analysts and investors turn more skeptical about when they will be ready for commercial use.
Twenty-four permit holders reported they did not test autonomous vehicles on California public roads, the DMV reported.
The list of tech and automobile companies testing California, according to the DMV, includes companies like Apple Inc., BMW of North America, Lyft, Mercedes Benz Research, Nissan North America, Qualcomm Technology and Toyota Research Institute.
The list also includes several others, including Aurora Innovation, Drive.ai Inc., Nullmax, Nuro, NVIDIA, SAIC Innovation Center, Udelv Inc., Valeo North America, WeRide Corp. and Zoox Inc. One company, Roadstar.ai, had its permit revoked because it failed to file a report. A second also had its permit revoked, but was not identified in the report.
Under California’s current regulations, companies are not required to report testing on private roads/test tracks, testing that occurs out of state, testing below SAE Level 3 or testing done in simulation. The regulations require submitting an annual report to the DMV every Jan. 1.
The reports include the total number of disengagements, the circumstances or testing conditions, the location, and the total miles traveled in autonomous mode on public roads for each permit holder.
Disengagements can occur when a failure of the technology is detected or when the safety driver needs to take control of the vehicle. The reports provide insights on a company’s testing activities in California but are not intended to compare one company with another or reach broad conclusions on technological capabilities, the DMV said.