For the last couple of years, we have seen many companies and CEOs promising that fully autonomous cars will hit the auto industry by 2018 – 2020.
2018 and 2019 have passed, although they are definitely making progress, though we do not see fully autonomous cars operating on a large scale in that time period.
Then hopes were raised when it was promised by Daimler that march 2021 was the final date to put 10,000 autonomous taxis on the streets by 2021.
This week it was announced by Daimler Chairman Ola Kallenius that the company was making a “reality check” on the project and focusing on self-driving long-haul trucks instead.
It can be seen that self-driving cabs aren’t coming in fashion as fast as it was expected by the auto industry.
Kallenius’s decided to have “reality check” due to some solid business reasons that are that Daimler is cutting costs and can’t commit to a large, capital-intensive project without a clear idea of what kind of first-mover advantage it might get.
The biggest headache of the company’s dealing with self-driving is that cars aren’t a menace in city traffic, and it is a job that will take more than a couple of years.
The incident of March 2018 accident in which a driverless Uber killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, is still haunting people and it appears Uber’s cars had been involved in dozens of previous nonfatal incidents in the course of the same testing program these are becoming the reason of delay for autonomous cars to become fully functional.
No other company wants to be in the same situation as Uber so General Motors subsidiary Cruise won’t be launching self-driving taxis in San Francisco this year, as previously promised, and maybe not next year, either.
For European carmakers, they are facing problems to deal with older cities not laid out on a grid, launching autonomous taxi services appears even more daunting in these cities.
Autonomous car developers are complaining about unpredictable human drivers and pedestrians who are causing all the accidents, but the cities in which they have to run will have these problems.
There also lies a problem in figuring out how to reduce rather than increase urban congestion. It’s better for companies to say they are working on the project and start the autonomous taxi when they are fully sure about it.