Over the past decade or so, Google has become known as a Silicon Valley giant that’s more than happy to try new things and perhaps sometimes take a wild stab in the dark. One project that they’ve been working on for a while, and see very real consumer promise in, is the self-driving car. Partnering with Lexus, Google have been testing these cars in California for some time now, attracting their fair share of attention. Now, Google has just released their first set of “disengagement” figures which lists all the times a human driver had to take over from the system in question in order to prevent an accident or collision. It turns out that, over a 14-month period, Google’s self-driving cars have gotten themselves into a lot of near-misses.
The figures were released just this month, and cover the period of September 2014 to November 2015 and in that time shows that Google’s self-driving cars suffered 341 disengagements across a period of 424,000 miles. This figure is shared between the fleet of both a modified Lexus RX450h as well as the custom self-driving cars of Google’s design. Out of these 341 disengagements, 272 of them were due to the car itself, where it might have reported a systems failure or something to do with the car. Google says that the majority of these cases are small hiccups, but in the other 69 disengagements a human driver took over on their own steam. This is often due to the human supervising the car predicting that the car is about to do something dangerous or something that could lead to a suggestion that would end up being dangerous. Google said that in 56 of these, they calculated little change of an accident or something similar happening.
Despite the fact that the Californian authorities require Google to hand over this data, Google has openly admitted that they’ve fiddled with the figures. Google is only required to record instances that could possibly be dangerous, and the Internet giant admits that their supervisors have taken over “many thousands of times”. The Mountain View firm never liked these regulations in the first place, and it seems like they’re doing everything they can to minimize any damage done by these figures. One interesting thing to note however, was that in all of these disengagements, the average time a human driver took over was 0.8 seconds. We guess that the human race isn’t all that slow, after all.