Executives and engineers pioneering self-driving technology have long believed autonomous vehicles hold the potential to dramatically reduce the number of traffic deaths and collisions.
Waymo has offered what might be a first glimpse into how those reductions occur.
The company, the commercial offspring of Google's autonomous-vehicle project, issued a report Friday that contains a trove of safety-related insights distilled from 6.1 million miles of real-world driving data in its metro Phoenix test hub since the start of 2019.
The data includes information on 47 collisions — both actual and simulated — that Waymo identified from January 2019 through September 2020.
Waymo and other industry experts say the report is the first of its kind in terms of the breadth of detailed information provided, and it could set a benchmark for an industry in which federal regulators have otherwise merely asked companies to file voluntary safety reports.
"I think it's huge," said Daniel McGehee, director of the National Advanced Driving Simulator and associate professor at the University of Iowa. "It's going to move the needle for the whole industry, and it's something I've wanted for a long time — for companies to be bold and take a leadership role. With the amount of detail they've published, I think it will light a fire under other companies. They're going to have to be transparent with their data."