Waymo Self-Driving Car Fleet Hits 4 Million Miles On The AI Odometer

Waymo, a division of Google's parent company Alphabet, continues to accelerate its self-driving car efforts by racking up millions of miles on public roads. The official tally now stands at 4 million miles, of which 1 million of those were accumulated in the past six months alone. In the early going, it took a full 18 months for Waymo to log its first million miles. All of this experience adds up and is crucial to making autonomous vehicles safe for everyday use.

Waymo Car
Image Source: Waymo

"With these 4 million miles of experience, we’ve been able to focus on varied and complex driving scenarios. For every situation we encounter on the road, we’re able to amplify and multiply the experience in simulation and on our private test track," the Waymo team said.

Waymo Miles
Source: Waymo

The 4 million miles of AI-powered driving experience has taken place in nearly two dozen US cities, including San Francisco and every bridge in the Bay Area, the hills of the Santa Cruz mountains, and the dust storms of Arizona. A varied mix of terrain and driving conditions is needed in order to properly train and develop Waymo's sensor technologies to detect and react to real-world scenarios that are outside the scope of testing.

Waymo also utilizes a private track that spans 91 acres. It is at that testing facility that Waymo can "practice rare and unusual situations" without the threat of injury to the general public. So far the self-driving car division has conducted tests on 20,000 unique scenarios, such as people jumping out of canvas bags and skateboarders laying on their boards. Waymo's also been able to train its vehicles to account for common scenarios that lead to accidents, such as aggressive drivers that come flying out of their driveways.

Driving on physical roads, whether it is out in public or on a private track, is only part of the equation. In the past year alone, Waymo has driven 2.5 billion miles in simulation. Many of those miles are retreads of real-world miles, which allows Waymo to dramatically accelerate its pace of learning.

"With this accelerated learning cycle, we’ve been able to teach our vehicles the advanced driving skills necessary for full autonomy. We’ve been able to unlock an entire geographic area for our fully self-driving cars, and soon members of the public will get to use Waymo’s driverless service to go to work, to school, to the grocery store and more," the Waymo team added.

Thumbnail Image Source: Wikimedia Commons (Grendelkhan)