Tesla’s “Fundamental Flaw” and California’s 2022 Autonomous Vehicle Mileage & Disengagement Report


Justin P. Schorr, Ph.D., President of DJS Associates, Inc.

The past week has brought two important pieces of news in an otherwise quiet world of Autonomous Vehicles. First, California released the 2022 disengagement reports and Tesla was forced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to recall over 360,000 vehicles with its full self-driving package. While I could gloat about my seemingly uncanny foresight regarding the Tesla recall (especially considering the indication in the headlines that there is a “Fundamental Flaw” in the system), a dive into the details reveals that the move presents more as a shot across the bow at Elon Musk than a serious (and necessary) reevaluation of this problematic technology. The recall targets Tesla for failing to follow traffic regulations in four scenarios – a crime which NHSTA says “increases the risk of a crash”. The scenarios where the technology fails are three-fold: traveling straight through an intersection while in the turn-only lane (my friend Travis calls this the “okie-doke”), entering a stop-sign controlled intersection without coming to a complete stop (something many people do multiple times a day), or entering an intersection on a yellow traffic signal (again, a daily accomplishment for many a driver). In addition, NHTSA says the technology fails to sufficiently respond to changes in posted speed limits (another ho-hum accusation). The recall issued by NHTSA says that the instances when the technology fails are “certain rare circumstances” and, given the unimpressive nature of the alleged crimes, there is certainly room to wonder if the recall is for the sake of safety or for the sake of embarrassing Elon Musk and dropping the price of Tesla stock.

In other AV news, California released their 2022 Autonomous Vehicle Mileage and Disengagement Reports for all companies testing in the State. In addition, California releases Autonomous Vehicle Crash Reports as they occur every few weeks. Like the diligent nerd I am, I acquire the Crash Reports throughout the year and enter the details into my database. Now that the yearly Disengagement and Mileage Reports have been released here are the 2022 takeaways:

  • Over 1300 autonomous test vehicles drove over 5.7 million miles for 28 different companies.
  • This was 5 times the number of testing vehicles from 2021 and 1.4 times the number of miles driven.
  • Waymo and Cruise were responsible for 74% of the testing vehicles and 80% of the miles driven.
  • In total, the vehicles were involved in 150 total crashes and suffered over 8,400 disengagements (5,900 of which were by Apple in just 125,000 miles).
  • Even when the Apple data is removed, the year over year improvements are unimpressive on the whole:
  • The same is true when looking at the leader of the pack, Waymo, in isolation:

As I have said for years, the exponential improvements which were the subject of past promises aren’t even in the discussion. There is linear growth, at best, in both miles per crash and per disengagement even as the vehicles become more and more familiar with the surrounding environment, people get more and more use to the presence of these vehicles, and the technology (supposedly) improves.

My old man used to love making the (now morbid) joke, “Justin says I won’t see self-driving vehicles in my lifetime – the problem is, he never defined how long my lifetime is.” Rest assured old man – you could have lived two lifetimes and still you wouldn’t have to live in a world where you were no longer in control of how you traversed the beautiful world we live in. These pointless pipe-dreams continue to fail to deliver on their “promise.”

Justin P. Schorr, Ph.D., President of DJS Associates, Inc., can be reached via email at experts@forensicDJS.com or via phone at 215-659-2010.

Categories: Autonomous Vehicles | Justin P. Schorr | Tesla | Uncategorized


Have A Question About This Article or Want to Contact the Expert?

Request An Expert

Fill out the form below so we may refer an expert

Do you have a question for us? We’re here to help!

James Schmidt Expert Spotlight