Apple's Self-Driving Car Performance May Not Be So Bad After All

Apple's preliminary disengagement data for its self-driving car project surfaced yesterday pointing towards a high number of disengagements, and today, the DMV has shared the full disengagement reports from the company, providing more insight into Apple's autonomous car testing.

A disengagement report tracks the number of times an autonomous vehicle disengages and gives control back to a safety driver or the number of times the safety driver in the vehicle interferes.


Yesterday's information suggested Apple had the worst rank when it came to disengagements, but Apple has now provided details [PDF] explaining its disengagement reporting procedures and some changes that were made mid-year.

For the period between April 2017 and June 2018, Apple vehicles drove 24,604 miles autonomously and experienced 40,198 manual takeovers and 36,359 software disengagements, a number that is comparatively high based on disengagement reports from other companies.

As of July 2018, however, Apple stopped reporting its total number of disengagements and instead began focusing on "Important Disengagements," aka disengagements that might have resulted in a safety-related event (aka accident) or a violation of the rules of the road.

Using this metric, Apple vehicles have driven 56,135 miles since July 2018, with only 28 "Important Disengagements" reported. Two of these "Important Disengagements" were indeed minor collisions that weren't the fault of Apple's vehicles. One accident took place in August 2018 and the other was in October 2018.

Under Apple’s revised reporting threshold, the company’s cars experienced only one important disengagement every 2005 miles, compared to every 1.1 miles if the full data is counted. If other companies use similar thresholds to Apple’s new standard, Apple would rank much better.

Making direct comparisons between Apple's disengagement report and the results from other companies is difficult because there is no standard for reporting disengagements. It's up to each individual company to decide what constitutes a disengagement and what disengagements need to be reported.

It is clear, though, that Apple's vehicles are in the early stages of testing, as the company says itself in a DMV cover letter.

According to Apple, safety is its "highest priority" and its approach to disengagements is "conservative" because its system is not yet able to operate in "all conditions and situations."

Apple's testing parameters require drivers to proactively take manual control of a vehicle any time the system encounters a scenario beyond its current capabilities. The vehicle itself also self-monitors and returns control back to the driver when errors or issues are encountered.

Situations where drivers take over include the appearance of emergency vehicles, construction zones, or unexpected objects in the road, as Apple's vehicles cannot self-navigate these obstacles.

The autonomous software hands over control when it can't sufficiently track an object, is unable to generate a motion plan using the path planning system, when the vehicle systems don't respond as expected, and when there are communication issues.

Apple now has more than 62 vehicles out on the road, a number that will likely ramp up in 2019 as autonomous software testing continues. Apple is required to provide annual disengagement reports to the DMV, so we'll see the company's 2019 performance in early 2020, and will be able to look for improvements.

Related Roundup: Apple Car

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
15 months ago
This makes more sense. All the nonsense people came up with the earlier report.... including apple is doomed, steve turning in his graves, tim is a big fail etc etc...
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
15 months ago

Apple Maps is not industry leader.

Siri is not industry leader.

If Apple can't lead on these, trying to twist the disengagement stats and trying to put Apple in a better light is not going to help anyone.

Stop dismissing the signs, Apple needs a huge wakeup call, switch up management, bring in new blood that has the tenacity and drive that Steve Jobs had, make Apple great again.

Somebody needs a wake up call and it isn’t Apple
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
15 months ago
So much like iPhone unit sales, the numbers weren't good so we stopped reporting them.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
15 months ago
Apple Maps is not industry leader.

Siri is not industry leader.

If Apple can't lead on these, trying to twist the disengagement stats and trying to put Apple in a better light is not going to help anyone.

Stop dismissing the signs, Apple needs a huge wake up call, switch up management, bring in new blood that has the tenacity and drive that Steve Jobs had, make Apple great again.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
15 months ago
I'm just going to leave this here...written here in the 'older' thread on this subject...

As a professional engineer in a different field, another factor that could be at play: the tolerance of the system to disengage will be different in each product.

Haters love to hate.

Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
15 months ago

So much like iPhone unit sales, the numbers weren't good so we stopped reporting them.

They were at least 4 years late on that one. Samsung stopped reporting long ago and the others never reported. Why subject yourself to unnecessary scrutiny when you make 30 times more profit in a quarter than tech darlin’ Amazon and actually have proven you know how to transition to new markets with relative ease. Amazon doesn’t report unit sales either by the way.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Acquires Weather App Dark Sky

Tuesday March 31, 2020 10:22 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple has acquired weather app Dark Sky, Dark Sky's developers announced today. Dark Sky is one of the most popular weather apps on the App Store, known for its accuracy and storm warnings. Our goal has always been to provide the world with the best weather information possible, to help as many people as we can stay dry and safe, and to do so in a way that respects your privacy. There is no ...

Apple's 2020 MacBook Air vs. 2020 iPad Pro

Wednesday April 1, 2020 2:45 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Apple in March updated both the MacBook Air and the iPad Pro, and with the iPad Pro increasingly positioned as a computer replacement, we thought we'd compare both new machines to see how they measure up and which one might be a better buy depending on user needs. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. We're comparing the base model 12.9-inch iPad Pro and the base model...

Zoom Accused of Misleading Users With 'End-to-End Encryption' Claims Amid Other Security Issues [Updated]

Wednesday April 1, 2020 2:47 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Zoom is facing fresh scrutiny today following a report that the videoconferencing app's encryption claims are misleading. Zoom states on its website and in its security white paper that the app supports end-to-end encryption, a term that refers to a way of protecting user content so that the company has no access to it whatsoever. However, an investigation by The Intercept reveals that...

Case for Upcoming Low-Cost iPhone Shows Up at Best Buy With Alleged April 5 Stock Date

Monday March 30, 2020 4:25 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Apple has a new low-cost iPhone in the works, which is supposed to be launching sometime in the first half of 2020. Given the ongoing situation in the United States and other countries, it's been unclear if the device is going to launch within the planned timeline, but there are signs that it could be coming soon. We started seeing cases for the new low-cost iPhone back in early February,...

Apple Adding Some 2013 and 2014 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Models to Vintage Products List at End of April

Wednesday April 1, 2020 2:24 pm PDT by Joe Rossignol
In an internal memo obtained by MacRumors, Apple has indicated that the following 2013 and 2014 models of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro will be added to its vintage and obsolete products list on April 30:MacBook Air (11-inch, Mid 2013) MacBook Air (13-inch, Mid 2013) MacBook Air (11-inch, Early 2014) MacBook Air (13-inch, Early 2014) MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2014)Apple defines vintage...

AirTags Referenced in New Apple Support Video

Thursday April 2, 2020 12:12 pm PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple has accidentally referenced its widely rumored AirTags item tracking tags in a video that it uploaded to its Apple Support channel on YouTube today. The video was first spotted by the blog Appleosophy and has quickly been removed. The video was titled "How to erase your iPhone." AirTags were mentioned in Settings > Apple ID > Find My > Find My iPhone under Enable Offline Finding, with...

Testing Brydge's New Pro+ Keyboard With Trackpad for iPad Pro

Monday March 30, 2020 2:04 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Well ahead of when Apple introduced trackpad support in iOS 13.4, Brydge announced an iPad Pro keyboard with a built-in multi-touch trackpad. We have one of Brydge's new Pro+ keyboards on hand, and thought we'd check it out to see how it works with Apple's new 2020 iPad Pro models. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The Brydge Pro+ keyboard is similar in design to...

Intel Unveils 10th-Gen Processors Suitable for Next 16-Inch MacBook Pro With Wi-Fi 6 and Turbo Boost Speeds Above 5GHz

Thursday April 2, 2020 7:53 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Intel today announced the launch of its latest 10th-generation Core processors for high-end notebooks, potentially including the next 16-inch MacBook Pro. The batch of 45W chips, part of the Comet Lake family, are built on Intel's 14nm++ architecture. The new H-series chips have the same base clock speeds as the 9th-generation chips in the current 16-inch MacBook Pro, but Turbo Boost speeds...

Apple's Work on New Upcoming Products Progressing Normally as Employees Adjust to Telecommuting

Monday March 30, 2020 11:58 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple's development of upcoming products is progressing as usual despite the fact that Apple employees around the world are working from home, according to a new report today out from Bloomberg. Apple is still working on new versions of the HomePod, Apple TV, MacBook Pro, budget iPads, Apple Watch, iPhone, and iMac, all of which could be released "as early as later this year" and have been...

2020 iPad Pro May Not Have a U1 Ultra Wideband Chip After All

Wednesday April 1, 2020 8:49 pm PDT by Joe Rossignol
While it was previously reported that all 2020 iPad Pro models feature the same Apple-designed U1 chip as the iPhone 11 lineup, enabling Ultra Wideband support, we have compiled evidence to suggest that this may not be the case. As a reminder, Apple's tech specs for the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro list an Ultra Wideband chip for spatial awareness, but the chip is not mentioned in Apple's...