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Is China’s self-driving car gradually surpassing its American rivals?

Chinese internet giant, Baidu, has stripped Google of the crown for self-driving cars, at least considering one of the few widely used standards to evaluate progress in technology. this. Still, the race to develop a truly self-driving car is open.

Self-driving cars are a relatively less transparent industry, as every company seeks to conceal details about its proprietary technology, and very few authorities. be able to assess and evaluate this fledgling field.

That’s why the annual report of the California Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) self-driving vehicle driver frequency, a detailed record of street test results, is for the most part. All of the major driverless cars are monitored very closely and are considered a measure of the development of this technology.

By law, every company that tests self-driving vehicles in California must report each case in which a human backup driver is forced to regain control of a self-driving car under test. on public roads in this state.

Specifically, this report has a concept of “

disengagements per mile

“(which can be interpreted as the frequency of driver intervention per mile). The less this frequency indicates that the less the vehicle requires human intervention. Some people think this is a physical sign. a vehicle is becoming safer and more advanced self-propelled.

For many years, Waymo’s self-driving car division, Waymo, has always held the top position in terms of frequency of intervention (at least). But last year, their crown was stolen by Apollo, a self-driving car company owned by Chinese search giant Baidu.

Is that evidence that Baidu’s self-driving car is better than Google’s? Both companies answered “No”.

Waymo’s position from the start – and in the opinion of the industry as a whole – ‘disengagements’ is not the only or best criterion for measuring the advancement of self-driving technology.“- a spokesman for Waymo said.

Focusing too much on “disengagement per mile” does not help much other than creating a horse race on a dirt road in our industry, which can turn into a star. neglected, leaving us increasingly far from real strides and improvements – the spokesperson said.

Waymo’s criticism of the “disengagement” rating is probably not surprising, given that the company has lost its top position for the first time ever, but even Baidu. nor does it emphasize the importance of the report.

The DMV report can be used as a reference, but the ranking method makes no sense“- a Baidu Apollo spokesman.

The frequency of interventions per mile is a reflection of the pace of technical development across generations, but comparisons between companies are insignificant because business needs are different for each vehicle company. Self-propelled various“- this person added.

The meaning that ‘disengagements’ shows a positive signal that a self-propelled vehicle is ready to be commercially deployed is just an imagination.“- Cruise’s co-founder and CTO, Kyle Vogt, writes in a blog post.”This data is really great to give the public information on what’s going on the road … But it’s too poor for most people outside the DMV.“.

Baidu’s Apollo Company achieved a “disengagements per thousand miles” index of 0.06 in 2019; while Waymo and Cruise averaged 0.076 and 0.08, respectively, according to the DMV California report.

However, both Waymo and Cruise have significantly more test miles, with a larger number of test vehicles on the road than Baidu in 2019.

Cruise has 227 vehicles on the way, taking a total of 831,039.9 miles. Waymo tested 147 vehicles, traveling a total of 1,453,137.3 miles. Baidu deployed just 4 vehicles and traveled a total of 108,300 miles on California streets.

Two self-driving car startups from China – AutoX and Pony.ai – rank in fourth and fifth, meaning that three of the top five companies in the rankings are from China.

Is China s self driving car gradually surpassing its American rivals | Internet

China has continued to invest heavily in this area and is getting some results from that investment“- Richard Windsor, founder of Radio Free Mobile, writes in the research report.

However, it is not possible to clearly distinguish between leading Chinese and American companies, “consider the weaknesses in this data and the fact that many of them are also testing in locations outside of California.“- Windsor said.

A Silicon Valley venture capitalist agrees that it’s hard to draw conclusions based on California reports.

Chinese and American self-driving car companies are basically working on two completely different fields as they both focus on their domestic markets.“- this investor said.”I don’t think we can really judge whose technology is better until companies from two countries start competing in the same market.“.

In that case, it will take some time for us to know who is the winner of the driverless car race. Baidu, AutoX, and Pony.ai all said in many interviews that they were not interested in the US market right now, even though California is still an important place to conduct testing.

For the time being, Apollo’s main market is still China, where the operating environment is more complicated, requires more extensive street testing, and requires further technical improvements.“- a spokeswoman for Baidu Apollo said.

References: Nikkei

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