Apple’s autonomous vehicle testing program saw a significant drop in 2019, with the entire fleet traveling many miles less than in 2018. It appears that Apple has also changed the reporting protocol for decommissioning information used to evaluate the effectiveness of the system being tested.
Second the data submitted by Apple to the Department of Motor Vehicles of California, from December 2018 to November 2019 were used for testing 23 of the 69 self-driving cars in the Apple fleet composed entirely of Lexus RX450h SUVs. In total, Apple cars have 7,544 miles during the reporting period, significantly down on the 79,754 miles in 2018.
Apple reported 64 disengages in the 7,544 total miles, averaging 8.48 disengages per 1,000 miles. A year earlier, 69,510 corridors had been registered (871.65 corridors per 1,000 miles). This is therefore an impressive improvement, even if the decommitment system used in the testing phase for self-driving vehicles is not an exact science.
Typically, i decommitments they are defined as cases in which the systems of a self-driving vehicle are unable to process the current road conditions, forcing the driver to resume manual driving. Human interventions are also considered as disengagement.
As explained by Apple in a letter to the California DMV shared last year, the company in 2018 adopted a “conservative” approach to disengagement, requiring “drivers to proactively take over manual vehicle control whenever the system encounters a scenario beyond our currently tested capabilities“. In addition, the company stated that its “software self-monitors and returns control to the driver when it detects errors or problems during operation“.
In 2019, Apple appears to have reduced its reporting methodology with regard to hallways, a sign that tests have reached a more mature stage. In recent months, the most common reason that led to a disengagement was a vague “discrepancy of controls“.
In any case, Apple is continuing to pursue its Project Titan, although it is not yet clear what the purpose will be. An autonomous driving system to share with car manufacturers or the first step towards creating an Apple Car?