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You could argue that  Waymo, the self-driving subsidiary of Alphabet, has the safest autonomous cars around. It’s certainly covered the most miles. But in recent years, serious accidents involving early systems from Uber and Tesla have eroded public trust in the nascent technology. To win it back, putting in the miles on real roads just isn’t enough.

So today Waymo not only announced that its vehicles have clocked more than 10 million miles since 2009. It also revealed that its software now drives the same distance inside a sprawling simulated version of the real world every 24 hours—the equivalent of 25,000 cars driving 24/7. Waymo has covered more than 6 billion virtual miles in total.

This virtual test track is incredibly important to Waymo’s efforts to demonstrate that its cars are safe, says Dmitri Dolgov, the firm’s CTO. It lets engineers test the latest software updates on a wide variety of new scenarios, including situations that haven’t been seen on real roads. It also makes it possible to test scenarios that would be too risky to set up for real, like other vehicles driving recklessly at high speed.

…continue reading ‘Waymo’s Cars Drive 10 Million Miles a Day in a Perilous Virtual World’

 

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MIT Technology Review

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