Tesla is testing self-driving cars on California roads

Tesla Inc. started testing four self-driving cars on California’s public roads late last year, a milestone for Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk who has promised to demonstrate an autonomous road trip from Los Angeles to New York by the end of 2017. The carmaker’s autonomous vehicles travelled a total of 550 miles on California public roads in October and November 2016 and reported 182 “disengagements,” or episodes when a human driver needs to take control to avoid an accident or respond to technical problems, according to a filing with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. That’s 0.33 disengagements per autonomous mile. Tesla reported that there were “no emergencies, accidents or collisions”. Tesla’s report for 2015 specified that it didn’t have any disengagements to report. Companies like Tesla with permits to test autonomous vehicles in the state are required to disclose the number of disengagements each year. The latest reports for 2016 - submitted by 11 companies including Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo and General Motors Co.’s Cruise - were made public Wednesday by the state’s DMV. Auto industry analysts stress that the California reports are an imperfect metric, because most companies are testing their vehicles in other countries and states like Michigan, Arizona and Nevada, not to mention on private tracks. Additionally, not all driving miles are created equal, and highway miles are far different than those racked up in tricky urban environments. BMW reported that it had just one disengagement in 638 miles driven, but specified in its report that the incident occurred on US Highway 101 with dry roads and clear weather. Mercedez reported 336 disengagements in 673 miles, but said that all of its reported miles were on urban streets with no highway driving. (Dana Hull/Bloomberg)

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