Apple’s Autonomous Cars Require Human Help

California’s mandatory reporting requirements compare different driverless cars tested in the state.

February 18, 2019

CUPERTINO, Calif. – Apple’s self-driving vehicles are requiring more human intervention than autonomous cars from some other manufacturers, according to Bloomberg.  

Apple disclosed in its annual report to the California Department of Motor Vehicles that test drivers disengaged the autonomous mode on Apple’s cars once for almost every mile driven. By comparison, Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo traveled just over 11,000 miles between disengagements and General Motors’ Cruise went more than 5,000 miles. Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The California report, which measures how many times human safety drivers take back control or interfere with self-driving systems, are incomplete snapshots of how the development of autonomous cars is coming along.  Apple, which began creating self-driving technology years after other companies, has been critical of California’s disengagement-reporting system. Car companies that report to California have argued that not all miles they test drive are comparable. For example, highway driving on a sunny day is easier than navigating city traffic or snowy mountain passes.

While Apple’s results suggest the company may be a lagging in the self-driving vehicle business, Apple cars have been involved in only a few minor collisions that were determined to be the fault of other vehicles.  Uber Technologies suspended autonomous testing for much of last year after one of its self-driving cars killed a pedestrian in March.