Waymo has released a detailed report of its autonomous driving test scenarios, providing evidence of the technology’s ability to prevent fatalities.
Waymo is an Alphabet company focused on autonomous driving. In fact, the company recently announced it would only use the term “autonomous driving,” as opposed to “self-driving.” Autonomous driving is widely seen as the next major evolution for the automotive industry, with the promise of safer driving.
Quantifying just how much safer autonomous driving is can be difficult, as few companies have been willing to release their testing numbers. Waymo has now taken that step, and the results are very encouraging. Waymo’s simulated driving data provides a decade-long look at how its platform performs.
In total, the simulated Waymo Driver completely avoided or mitigated 100% of crashes aside from the crashes in which it was struck from behind, including every instance that involved a pedestrian or cyclist (20 simulations in total). This is the first time an autonomous technology company has shared its evaluation for how the system might perform in real-world fatal crash scenarios.
Significantly, drivers were 1.3 to 1.5x less likely to be injured in accidents that Waymo’s vehicles mitigated.
Waymo specifically tested 72 scenarios from public records of accidents that had involved a fatality. When the Waymo Driver was in primary control of the vehicle, those accidents were avoided 100% of the time.
Waymo then ran test scenarios where Waymo Driver was in responder mode, only taking action once the human driver had made a mistake. In those scenarios, 82% of accidents were avoided, while another 10% were mitigated. This gives Waymo a 92% success rate at avoiding or mitigating fatal accidents, even when the human driver has done something that would have caused an accident.
In other words, even when a human driver did something to initiate a crash, such as running a red light, the simulated Waymo Driver avoided or mitigated the vast majority of these fatal crashes.
This is good news for the auto industry and drivers alike, and will hopefully help remove barriers to autonomous driving adoption.