2022 Disengagement Report from California

It’s February again, and that’s when the California DMV releases its annual Disengagement Report, or more accurately, the data that goes with it. A so-called disengagement report is required from the 43 companies currently licensed to test autonomous cars on public roads in California. This has been in place for a number of years, I have documented 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Each year, licensees must report how many autonomous test and commercial vehicles they operated from Dec. 1 to Nov. 30, how many miles or kilometers they drove, and how many disengagements there were. A disengagement here can be described as the event when the autonomous vehicle either got stuck and handed over control to a safety driver present in the vehicle, or when a safety driver took control himself. The latter is the case if, for example, the vehicle was about to make a mistake or could no longer find its way out of a traffic situation.

One can already see from this definition that it is at the discretion of the licensees what is reported as a disengagement. Often an overzealous safety driver takes control, where it then becomes apparent in the simulation that the vehicle would have handled that situation itself after all. Also, fewer interventions are expected on freeways than in suburbs or in cities like San Francisco, where many different road users congregate. In this respect, the figures reported and published by the companies should be taken with a grain of salt. However, I interpret and present them anyway because California is currently the only region in the world where we have such data publicly available, and they offer a little insight into the progress and state of development of autonomous vehicles.

In total, less than 50 companies reported data for the full year (December 1, 2021 to November 30, 2022), and two did not submit the mandatory report and will lose their license as a consequence. 22 companies did not report any activities, therefore 24 companies are represented in the following analysis. Furthermore, 7 manufacturers are currently licensed to operate vehicles without a safety driver.

Reports with Safety Drivers

First up are the reports on rides with safety drivers in the vehicle. A total of 1,507 autonomous vehicles had been operating in California during the period, a 28 percent increase from last year’s 1,175. Waymo had the most with 688 vehicles, a slight decrease from last year’s 693 vehicles, followed by Cruise with 388 vehicles, nearly tripling its fleet from last year’s 138.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2022-disengagement-report-vehicles.png
Number of vehicles deployed per manufacturer in the 2022 reporting period

All manufacturers combined covered a total of 9,543,686 kilometers (5,964,804 miles), nearly a third more than last year, when all vehicles combined covered 6,482,960 kilometers (4,051,850 miles). The most miles were again achieved by Waymo, which with 4,640,230 kilometers (2,900,144 miles) relegated Cruise to second place with 2,761,955 kilometers (1,726,222 miles).

Number of miles driven per manufacturer in the 2022 reporting period

The present evaluation of how many miles a vehicle drives autonomously before a safety driver has to intervene is, as always, to be taken with a grain of salt, since the way a disengagement is determined is left up to the companies.

Number of miles driven per disengagement in the reporting period 2022

Here we see that Cruise can drive an average of 95,901 miles (153,442 kilometers) over the fleet before a safety driver has to intervene. With a human mileage of 10,000 miles, that means an intervention only every 10 years. AutoX comes in second with 49,314 miles (78,902 kilometers), Zoox with 26,292 miles (42,067 kilometers and WeRide with 21,520 miles (34,432 kilometers).

Driverless Reports

Seven companies (Apollo, AutoX, Cruise, Nuro, Waymo, WeRide, and Zoox) have driverless licenses and reported numbers on this. In total, five of the companies (Apollo, Cruise, Nuro, Waymo and WeRide) reeled off 623,689 driverless miles during the comparison period. That’s 25 times as many miles as last year.

MilesKilometersVehicles
Apollo (Baidu)21,77434,8384
Cruise546,492874,388222
Nuro9241,4799
Waymo51,63982,623317
WeRide2,8594,5753
623,689997,903555



The 555 vehicles (plus 3 vehicles from AutoX and Cruise) thus came to almost one million kilometers of driverless driving. Of these, Cruise completed the majority of driverless driving with 546,492 miles (874,388 kilometers) – and this was in the traffic-challenged city of San Francisco.

No disengagements are given by the manufacturers for the driverless rides because, according to the definition, they require the intervention of a safety driver on board.

More Details

Again, Tesla does not appear this year, and the reason lies in the definition of what is considered an autonomous test vehicle. Tesla’s current interpretation of the FSD Beta, which is now in use in more than 300,000 customer vehicles, is that it is a driver assistance system that does not require reporting to the DMV. Also, at the request of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Tesla has just launched a recall for the FSD Beta to correct some problem. By the way, the recall will only be done through an over-the-air update (OTA), no workshop visits are necessary there.

Conclusion

This year represents a big leap since the start of autonomous driving tests and the compelling reporting on disengagements by individual manufacturers by the California DMV. Not only does the report show a jump in driverless miles driven – thanks to not one but two fleets of robotaxis – Waymo and Cruise, in operation in San Francisco – but the increase in test miles by all other manufacturers speaks to an intensification of testing. Zoox, for example, plans to begin driverless operations this year as well, and with an entirely new type of vehicle. Cruise and Waymo are also preparing similar vehicles for testing on public roads.

Note: an earlier version reported an incorrect number for WeRide, which is now corrected and related to miles driven and miles per disengagement.

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This article was also published in German.

8 Comments

  1. Once again the results of this year are promising for the future. Congratulations to all the companies in this sector for their innovations.
    I have a quick question, how exactly are withdrawals accounted for. For example Cruise declares 18 disengagements in 2022 and if we compare with some articles of your blogs more than 24 Cruise cars were involved in incidents over the same period. Would these vehicles still have remained in autonomous mode?
    Thanks again for your blog.

    Like

    1. The incidents that you are referring to all happened with driverless vehicles. Those are counted very differently without disengagements. None of the companies that has a driverless license and tested (in total 5) have reported any disengagements.

      Like

    1. Thank you! I fixed it.
      Their original document that they had submitted to the DMV included the tally in their list, without them marking it specifically, which led to this wrong result.

      Like

      1. Could it be that your location doesn’t allow access to the DMV site? Are you in the US or in China?

        Like

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