San Francisco-based startup Embark, that is developing technology for autonomous trucks and semis, has published a disengagement-report. The company is currently not required to publish such a report, as due to legal constraints the company is only allowed to test trucks with Level 2 autonomy features on public roads. Companies that have a California license to test full autonomous cars are required to submit a disengagement report each year. Embark still has decided to go public with their own report believing in safety and winning the trust of the public. In fact this report is the first disengagement report known from an autonomous truck company.
Embark trucks have driven 124,062 miles (198,499 kilometers) between January 1st, 2017 and December 31st in the US in autonomous mode. The vast majority of miles were done on highways and interstates, which is significantly easier task than city traffic, as done by Waymo or GMCruise for instance. Highways don’t have opposite or cross traffic, traffic lights, or pedestrians crossing.
The disengagements, the moments the vehicle hands back control to a required safety driver in a moment the system is unable to handle by itself, were for Embark trucks in the period from October 1st, 2018 until December 31st, 2018 at every 1,392 miles (2,227 kilometers). In comparison the leading companies like Waymo had on average disengagements in 2017 every 5,595 miles (8,954 kilometers) and GMCruise at 1,254 miles (2,006 kilometers). Even though those values are very different when considering the road types driven (city here, highway there) and given the room that companies have in defining a disengagement, those numbers still look promising.
Embark’s drives were done with freight in a commercial setting. Among others loads with fridges were transported over an extended period between Long Beach in California to El Paso in Texas.The new Disengagement-Reports for 2018 for California entities are expected anytime soon this week.
This article was also published in German.