What you need to know
- Only 23 cars were used.
- 7,544 autonomous miles were logged.
- That's down from 79,754 the year before.
Apple's fleet of autonomous cars drove just 7,544 miles in 2019. That number is down considerably on the 79,754 miles that were logged in 2018.
Disengagements were down, too, according to numbers submitted to California's Department of Motor Vehicles and picked up by Apple Insider. In fact, they were down considerably with just 8.48 disengagements per 1,000 miles driven. Compare that to the 872 per thousand miles the year before and you'd imagine that some clear improvements have been made.
However, it may just be that Apple has changed the way it's reporting those disengagements. Previously it was very conservative, according to the report.
As explained by Apple in a letter to California's DMV last year, the company in 2018 took a "conservative" approach to disengagements that required "drivers to proactively take manual control of the vehicle any time the system encounters a scenario beyond our currently proven abilities." Further, the company said its "software self-monitors and returns control back to the driver when it encounters any errors or issues during operation."
With that in mind, it may be that Apple has made it less likely that a disengagement will be recorded by no longer requiring drivers to take over so readily.
It still isn't clear what Apple's self-driving cars are doing, or why they're there at all. Apple was previously thought to be running Project Titan with an eye on producing its own car in the future, but that has reportedly shifted. Apple has also greatly reduced the number of people working on the project, too.