Auto Tech

Waymo's self-driving cars hit 4 million miles

Latest milestone comes just six months after it reached 3 million miles, as the former Google Self-Driving Car Project accelerates toward the future.

Waymo

Waymo's drive toward autonomous cars continues to pick up speed. Alphabet's automated car division has announced that its development vehicles have eclipsed 4 million self-driven miles on public roads. 

The latest million-mile increment was accumulated in just six months, between May and November. For reference, it took about thrice as long for Waymo to reach its first million miles back in 2015. In other words, the company's growing fleet of test vehicles is resulting in a hockey-stick development curve.

By comparison, Uber revealed it had reached the 1 million mile marker earlier this fall.

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Waymo's real-world self-driven test miles are accelerating in a hockey-stick growth curve.

Waymo

In addition to real-world miles, the company said it drove a further 2.5 billion simulated miles last year. Each day those simulations include some 25,000 problematic scenarios. 

In an update posted on Medium, Waymo further disclosed that its vehicles have been subjected to some 20,000 different tests on its private test track, including such seemingly random scenarios as people lying down on skateboards and humans jumping out of canvas bags. 

Roadshow's own Tim Stevens visited Waymo's Castle Air Force Base test facility in October and witnessed some of those 20,000 tests. You can read his thoughts here.

In early November, Waymo announced that some of its fleet of automated Chrysler Pacifica minivans were going completely driverless, with no human drivers as a safety backup. 

Waymo is currently testing in 23 cities in four states: California, Arizona, Washington and Texas. Its focus on the western United States is understandable given its base of operations in California. But as part of its bid to create safe driverless transportation, the company will undoubtedly need to expand its real-world testing efforts eastward to encounter different types of roads -- and perhaps most importantly -- weather.