Companies with a permit to test autonomous vehicles in California with a safety driver reported their technologies drove nearly 2 million miles on public roads during the most recent reporting period, a decrease of about 800,000 miles from the previous reporting cycle, according to disengagement reports recently submitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
The 63 annual reports submitted to the DMV summarize the disengagements reported during testing. The reports include the total number of disengagements, the circumstances or testing conditions, the location, and the total miles traveled in autonomous mode on public roads for each permit holder. Disengagements can occur when a failure of the technology is detected or when the safety driver needs to take immediate control of the vehicle. The reports provide insights on a company’s testing activities in California but are not intended to compare one company with another or reach broad conclusions on technological capabilities.
Thirty-three permit holders reported they did not test autonomous vehicles on California public roads during the most recent reporting period. The DMV suspended one company’s testing permit for failing to file the annual report.
Under California’s regulations, companies are not required to report testing on private roads/test tracks, testing that occurs out of state, testing below SAE Level 3 design or testing done in simulation. The regulations require submitting an annual report to the DMV every January 1. The first report a company provides covers the period from when the permit was issued to November 30 of the following year. Subsequent reports provide 12-month details from December 1 to November 30 of each year.
Currently, 55 companies have valid permits to test autonomous vehicles with a safety driver and six have a permit for driverless testing. All active testing permit holders that received authorization prior to 2020 were required to submit a disengagement report by January 1, 2021. Companies that received a permit in 2020 – two for testing with a driver and four for driverless testing – will submit their first report by January 1, 2022.