The rate with which Google’s self-driving division Waymo is raking up miles driven in autonomous mode is impressive. Techblog Jalopnik reports that Waymo reached less than three months after it’s last milestone another million miles.
Tests of the technology started in 2009, and it took 6 years to reach the first million mile. 15 months later another million miles was accomplished, eight for the third, six months for the fourth, four months for the fifth, and now three months for the sixth million. With more and more cars that Waymo is deploying on streets – and beside the announced 20,000 Jaguars another 62,000 Fiat Chryslers are coming – Waymo will reach probably before the end of the year a million miles per week.
Driving millions of miles in real traffic is not just going to ‘extra mile.’ Exactly that amount of driving allows to encounter more of the fringe traffic scenarios and thus improve the technology. Even very rare traffic situations are more likely to be encountered by a large fleet than by a small one.
For every mile driven in he real world another 1,000 miles are driven in simulators. According to Waymo-CEO John Krafcik, those simulator miles account for 80 percent of the technology improvements.
This article has also been published in German.