Monday, December 31, 2018

Nobody Listens to Atrios

This is a maddening kind of article of a style normally reserved for the political press.

As 2018 dawned, expectations for self-driving vehicles were sky-high:

Whose expectations? People who write this stuff for a living and apparently didn't do a very good job.

Driverless cars seemed to reach peak hype some time in late 2017. Then in 2018, the industry plunged into the trough of disillusionment, with some people wondering if driverless technology might be decades away. But today's extreme pessimism seems as unwarranted as the extreme optimism we saw a year ago. Maybe in 2019, the public will start to develop more realistic expectations for self-driving technology.

Which public? I don't think polls about this stuff have much meaning, but on a subject like this "The public" mostly means "people who write articles for niche publications about self-driving cars." The hype was coming from inside the house and self-driving cars are just the bumper cars we met along the way.

And "more realistic expectations" are basically that we are "never" going to get our self-driving taxis, and that aside from some niche applications of limited commercial value there probably will be very few consumer applications in the foreseeable future. There might be more freight applications but I suspect even those are not going to be taking over the industry any time soon.