Tesla’s Autonomous Car Test Data Is Limited And Unimpressive

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Tesla is focused on getting fully autonomous car technology to the market as fast as it can. The automaker is also fixated on updating the capabilities of the semi-automated Autopilot system it already offers. Still, the public road test data it filed with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)of California is limited and unimpressive, according to Forbes.

Disengagement reports do not tell you everything

Late last year, Tesla began testing four autonomous cars on public roads in its home state. This was the first milestone in CEO Elon Musk’s promise to demonstrate an autonomous road trip from Los Angeles to New York by the end of this year.

Automakers that have permits to test autonomous cars in the state are required to reveal the number of disengagements each year. For 2016, the state posted self-driving vehicle “disengagement” reports from 11 companies, including Nissan, Ford, GM, Tesla, Alphabet’s Waymo, BMW, Delphi and Bosch.

The report details how often a human driver takes over for the automated system. More than 20 tech, supplier and auto companies have permits to operate autonomous cars in California.

Referring to the disengagement reports, Gartner analyst Mike Ramsey said, “It’s a snapshot and it’s directionally interesting, but it doesn’t tell you everything.”

Tesla is weak in comparison to others

According to the filing, Tesla shockingly logged only 550 miles on public roads in its home state in 2016 (mainly in October). During those 550 miles, Tesla’s system disengaged 182 times. The automaker reported that there were no collisions, emergencies, or accidents. Tesla’s 2015 report specified that it did not have any disengagements to report.

In comparison, Waymo logged 635,868 autonomous miles in California last year and only 124 disengagements for the entire year. On adjusting those figures on a per-thousand mile rate, Tesla’s disengagements work out to 330.9 times for every 1,000 miles, in comparison to 0.2 times for Waymo, notes Forbes.

It must be noted that Tesla has many more miles of automated drive data under its belt, as the report does not include the Autopilot miles the company regularly logs. According to Tesla’s estimates, it has more than 300 million miles of real-world Autopilot driving data, notes Forbes.

Nissan, General Motors and Delphi logged the most California miles after Waymo, reporting 4,099, 9,776, and 3,125 autonomous miles, respectively. GM, which was testing its Cruise units, averaged 18.5 disengagements, whereas Delphi averaged 57, and Nissan’s rate was 6.8.

On Wednesday, Tesla shares closed down 1.07% at $249.24. Year to date, the stock is up almost 17%.

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