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Cruise co-founder and CTO Kyle Vogt said Friday that disengagement reports released annually by California regulators are not a proxy for the commercial readiness or safety of self-driving cars.
Vogt, in a lengthy post on Medium, called for a new metric to determine whether an autonomous vehicle is ready for commercial deployment. The post suggests that the autonomous vehicle company, which had a valuation of $19 billion as of May, is already developing more comprehensive metrics.
California - Department - Motor - Vehicles - Permits
The California Department of Motor Vehicles, which regulates the permits for autonomous vehicle testing on public roads in the state, requires companies to submit an annual report detailing “disengagements,” a term that means the number of times drivers have had to take control of a car. The DMV defines a disengagement as any time a test vehicle operating on public roads has switched from autonomous to manual mode for an immediate safety-related reason or due to a failure of the system.
“It’s woefully inadequate for most uses beyond those of the DMV,” Vogt wrote. “The idea that disengagements give a meaningful signal about whether an AV is ready for commercial deployment is a myth.”
Reports - Weeks - Cruise - Share - Disengagement
These disengagement reports will be released in a few weeks. Cruise did share some of its disengagement data, specifically the number of miles driven per disengagement event, between 2017 and 2019.
The so-called race to commercialize autonomous vehicles has involved a fair amount of theater, including demos. This lack of data has made it nearly impossible to determine if a company’s self-driving cars are safe enough or ready for the big and very real stage of shuttling people from Point A to Point B on city streets. Disengagement reports as flawed as they might be have been one of the only pieces of data that the public, and the media, have access to.
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