Electric Self-Driving Cars Soon? Not Likely


FLASH: The automobile industry has overestimated the arrival of self-driving cars, with companies admitting that making them is going to be harder, slower and costlier than they thought just a short time ago.

We overestimated the arrival of autonomous vehicles,” Ford’s CEO Jim Hackett said.

It was just a year ago that some insisted that the age of autonomous cars would begin with thousands of self-driving taxis on the road already in Y 2019.

But now Argo AI CEO Bryan Salesky said creating driver-less cars that could go anywhere was “way in the future.”

As a sign of the much lowered expectations, Ford (NYSE:F) and Volkswagen (OTCMKT:VLKAY) said they are teaming up to use Argo technology in ride-sharing services in a few urban zones as early as Y 2021.

The largest obstacle to success is irrational human behavior, with Salesky explaining that “You see all kinds of crazy things on the road, and it turns out they’re not all that infrequent, but you have to be able to handle all of them. With radar and high-resolution cameras and all the computing power we have, we can detect and identify the objects on a street. The hard part is anticipating what they’re going to do next.”

Virtually alone in the industry for continued optimism is Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) CEO Elon Musk, who insists there will be widespread use of self-driving cars within the next year, with Tesla having as many as a million autonomous “robo taxis” by the end of Y 2020. Old Hype, New Hype Flying Cars, Truck and Busses…

Recall that Tech Crunch points out that in Y 2015 Mr. Musk predicted his company’s cars would be fully autonomous by Y 2017. 

This, of course, turned out to be incorrect, and most industry experts are equally skeptical of Tesla’s optimism aka outlandish hype.

Have a terrific week