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09 02 2018 01

Cruise has made rapid progress in California in the last year—Waymo not so much.

California officials Tuesday released annual statistics showing the amount of driverless car testing in the state between December 2016 and November 2017. Just like last year, the numbers show Waymo, Alphabet's driverless car division, comfortably in the lead. But unlike last year, Waymo now has a serious challenger: Cruise, the driverless car division of General Motors.

Just like last year, Waymo's driverless cars logged hundreds of thousands of miles on California roads. And both this year and last, its cars were able to go more than 5,000 miles between "disengagements"—situations where a safety driver has to take the wheel.

But last year, Waymo didn't have any serious competition. Cruise only logged 10,000 miles in 2016, and a safety driver had to take the wheel every 35 miles, on average. Other companies did even worse. This year, things are different. Cruise vehicles drove a respectable 131,000 miles. And safety drivers only had to intervene once every 1,250 miles.

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