KEEPING THE SEMI IN SEMI-AUTONOMOUS: Uber’s autonomous cars drove 20,354 miles and had to be taken over at every mile.

Though Uber has more cars on the road this month than last month and has increased its weekly autonomous mileage — both good developments — the company’s human drivers are still taking over the system more times than they did in January.

Uber uses several different metrics to determine how its systems have progressed. Those include:

The average number of miles a car drives itself before a driver has to take over for any reason
The average number of miles between “critical” interventions — when a driver has to avoid causing harm, such as hitting pedestrians or causing material property damage
The average number of autonomous miles between “bad experiences” — things like jerky motions or hard braking, which are more likely to cause discomfort than damage

For example: During the week ending March 8, the 43 active cars on the road only drove an average of close to 0.8 miles before the safety driver had to take over for one reason or another.

So Uber has more and more semi-automous cars driving more miles, but the average distance driven before the driver needs to intervene hasn’t changed much.

This suggests that Uber’s AI isn’t a very quick learner — although my hunch is that after enough miles and AI experience, that a virtual tipping point will be reached, after which the AI will start learning very quickly.