Human intervention halved

The number of human interventions in journeys made by driverless cars from Google company Waymo in California more than halved in 2016 according to BBC reports.

There were only 124 ‘disengagement’ incidents last year, where a driver had to take control of a test vehicle on public roads, down from 341 in 2015. The cars drove nearly 636,000 miles last year, compared with just over 424,000 in 2015.

The figures are published as part of the The California Department of Motor Vehicles annual reports. Under law, every company that has a state permit to test autonomous vehicles in California must report how many times a driver had to intervene.

In the report, Waymo stated: ‘Disengagements are a natural part of the testing process that allow our engineers to expand the software’s capabilities and identify areas of improvement.’ The most common reasons for interventions were ‘software discrepancies, unwanted manoeuvres of the vehicle and perception discrepancies’, according to the company.

Meanwhile, Google’s Waymo will launch the first public road tests of its self-driving minivans later this month. The trials will take place in California and Arizona, according to Waymo chief executive John Krafcik.