Apple's autonomous vehicle testing program fell significantly in 2019, the entire fleet is much less kilometers than in 2018. It seems that Apple has also changed the reporting protocol for the derating information used for assess the effectiveness of the test system.
According to data presented by Apple at Department of Motor Vehicles from California, from December 2018 to November 2019, 23 of the 69 autonomous cars in the Apple fleet entirely made up of Lexus RX450h SUVs were used for testing. In total, these cars covered 7,544 miles during the reporting period, down significantly from 79,754 miles in 2018.
Apple reported 64 withdrawals out of 7,544 miles in total, an average of 8.48 withdrawals per 1,000 miles. A year earlier, 69,510 withdrawals were recorded (871.65 withdrawals per 1,000 miles). This is therefore an impressive improvement, even if the opt-out system used during the test phase of autonomous vehicles is not an exact science.
In general, disengages are defined as cases where the systems of an autonomous vehicle cannot handle current road conditions, forcing the driver to resume manual driving. Human intervention is also considered a disengagement.
As explained by Apple in a letter to the Californian DMV shared last year, the company adopted in 2018 a “conservative” approach to the withdrawal, demanding that drivers proactively take manual control of the vehicle each system responds to a scenario beyond our currently tested capabilities . In addition, the company said that its software self-monitors and returns control to the driver when it detects errors or problems during operation .
In 2019, Apple appears to have reduced its reporting methodology for opting out, a sign that testing has reached a more mature stage. In recent months, the most common reason for disengagement has been a vague “control cart”.
In any case, Apple continues to pursue its Titan project, although it is not yet known what the goal will be. An autonomous driving system to share with car manufacturers or the first step towards creating an Apple Car?