Developers Of Autonomous Vehicles Manage To Keep Their Technology Secret In Spite Of Reports

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The latest batch of reports from autonomous vehicles developers regarding disengagement has been published by California Department of Motor Vehicles. However, the data does not reveal the secrets that are being kept by the very tight-lipped self-driving vehicle industry.

At least 48 autonomous vehicle developers tested their technology on public roads and collectively drove 2.05 million miles from December 2017 to November 2018. The reports from California DMV reveal the number of times that the self-driving vehicle disengaged out of the autonomous mode. The vehicle has to switch back to traditional human-hand-on-the-wheel manual mode.

Similar to many standardized tests, there is lots of information that are missed in the reports. It is difficult to understand how well the technology works and how each company’s progress compares to their competitors. It is possible that the reports could encourage engineers to baby the vehicle in an effort to lower the disengagement figures and mislead the statistics.

However, secrecy is very critical in the industry that is dependent on complex software and hardware. Any information revealed to the public can put the development at risk. While there is information that can be gleaned from the thousands upon thousands of pages, understanding them will require acceptance of a few caveats.

For example, the reports are not scientific because data is reported by companies in different ways. These are different levels of detail and distinctive explanations why the vehicles were jolted out of self driving mode. Companies cannot be compared because they are running different tests.

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