Uber vs Waymo: Another Look at the Fatal Crash

In the wake of a fatal crash, let's take a look at the intervention stats of Uber vs Waymo.

Waymo, formerly the self-driving car project of Google, said that in tests on roads in California last year, its cars went an average of nearly 5,600 miles before the driver had to take control from the computer to steer out of trouble. As of March, Uber was struggling to meet its target of 13 miles per “intervention” in Arizona, according to 100 pages of company documents obtained by The New York Times and two people familiar with the company’s operations in the Phoenix area but not permitted to speak publicly about it.

Not all drivers followed Uber’s training. One was fired after falling asleep at the wheel and being spotted by a colleague. Another was spotted air drumming as the autonomous car passed through an intersection, according to the two people familiar with Uber’s operations.

A video shot from the vehicle’s dashboard camera showed the safety driver looking down, away from the road. It also appeared that the driver’s hands were not hovering above the steering wheel, which is what drivers are instructed to do so they can quickly retake control of the car.

Hand Above the Steering Wheel?

Try it yourself, right now. Stretch your hands out over your computer, grabbing nothing and see how long you can hold the position.

This is not a case of the technology not being ready, this is a case that Uber's technology sucks.

Waymo is ready. Uber isn't.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (45)
No. 1-25
FelixMish
FelixMish

One must calibrate miles-per-intervention numbers. Such numbers want to be fairly low. If they are too high, the environment is 'solved'. Time to move development on to a harder-to-drive environment. The question is, What is the best 'fairly low' number? Each of the teams answers that question as best they can.

This accident might kill Uber's self-driving team. It will be interesting to see what behavior we see from the next team in this field that has a disaster.

And software guys all over the world are examining themselves, wondering what they would have done if the "bug" had been their's. Life-and-death stuff is normally pretty hidden from view and committee-ized. This one comes from real life everyone can empathize with.

MntGoat
MntGoat

"tests on roads in California last year, its cars went an average of nearly 5,600 miles before the driver had to take control from the computer to steer out of trouble"

MntGoat
MntGoat

----->My question is what type of driving was that 5,600 miles? Are we talking some completely staged place like a lonely parking lot going around cones? Or are we talking the car is driving itself entirely though complex city streets in say LA or SF, stopping at 4 way stops, stopping for school kids radomly jaywalking, swerving out of the way of a piece of junk in the road, dealing with broken flashing stoplights,.....etc....

Greggg
Greggg

Security guards fall asleep in their boots waiting for something to happen. Same, same. How long can you sit and watch a clock?

whirlaway
whirlaway

"Waymo is ready. Uber isn't."

And what data do you have for arriving at that conclusion? On the one hand, Waymo's press release making unverifiable claims. And on the other hand, Uber's internal company documents obtained by the press with help from two anonymous insiders.

Not exactly apples vs apples.