Safety is paramount at Waymo, and it shows. The company’s self-driving cars have now logged over 7 million miles in rider-only operations, achieving a remarkable safety feat: significantly outperforming human drivers in crash rates. This milestone comes as Waymo publishes two new research papers, one comparing its driver’s performance to human benchmarks and the other establishing clear benchmarks for such comparisons.
The research reveals impressive results. Compared to human drivers in Phoenix, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, the Waymo Driver boasts:
- 85% reduction in crashes involving any injury: This translates to 0.41 incidents per million miles for Waymo versus 2.78 for humans.
- 57% reduction in police-reported crashes: Waymo recorded 2.1 incidents per million miles compared to 4.85 for humans.
These figures translate to an estimated 17 fewer injuries and 20 fewer police-reported crashes for Waymo’s 7 million miles compared to human drivers. Notably, local human benchmarks varied significantly, with San Francisco exhibiting the highest injury rate at 5.55 incidents per million miles – three times the national average.
Challenges of Comparing Human and AV Performance
Comparing human and autonomous vehicle (AV) crash rates isn’t straightforward. Human crash underreporting and differences in driving conditions and vehicle types can skew the data. Waymo addresses these challenges by:
- Adjusting human crash data for underreporting using police reports and naturalistic driving studies.
- Focusing on similar driving conditions and vehicle types as its own operations.
Beyond Crash Rates: A Holistic Approach to Safety
While lower crash rates are crucial, Waymo emphasizes a comprehensive approach to safety. This includes:
- Good driving behavior: Respectful, predictable, and smooth driving that minimizes traffic disruption and confusion.
- Continuous improvement: Ongoing efforts to refine the Waymo Driver’s algorithms and performance across all aspects.
Transparency and Collaboration
Waymo shares its research findings to enhance transparency in the AV industry and advance the field through collaboration with researchers, regulators, and academics. This commitment to open communication and collaboration paves the way for a safer future of transportation.
Waymo’s 7 million-mile milestone and its impressive safety record demonstrate the immense potential of self-driving technology. As the company continues to refine its technology and expand its operations, we can expect even greater strides towards a future where autonomous vehicles navigate our roads safely and efficiently.