What is the end game of the self-driving car technology?
Updated: May 2, 2021
I was wondering what will be the final goal for the self-driving company.
In other words, what kind of world the autonomous car can realize?
This is an old article from two years ago, but it is interesting that George Hotz has a skepticism toward an autonomous vehicle business from that time.
“The self-driving product is a worse Uber. They already have this product, it’s called Uber, it works pretty well. The self-driving version will just take you 50 percent longer to get to your destination.” - George Hotz
It has been two years from this article, the technologies improved significantly and some of the company is already starting their trial service in some states. However, my question comes from a more fundamental point of view.
I personally feel that most of the problems that self-driving technologies are trying to solve are able to solve in more efficient ways.
Let's see the mission statement of the successful self-driving start-ups in the US.
Why people need transportation?
Go for shopping
Go to school
Go to an office
Go to physical labor
Go to meet someone
Go for travel
Go out for leisure
To transport someone else/ to transport things
However, in this Covid-19 pandemic era, people realized that most of the above can be done without actual transportation.
Whereas, people like autonomous assistance for the vehicle (ADAS), and the company which is selling their autonomous driving technologies as
People are okay with ADAS but not for self-driving technologies.
What we can learn from the shut-down of the Starsky Robotics?
Starsky robotics was an interesting startup that focuses on remote control rather than making the vehicle fully autonomous. In 2016, they became the first street-legal vehicle to be paid to do real work without a human, and in 2019, their truck became the first fully-unmanned truck to drive on a live highway.
However, the company could not meet its investor's expectations and closed its business. Founder of Starsky Robot, Stefan Seltz-Axmacher, has written the long blog post to reflect on his business.
He was listing out the reasons for failure but especially mentioned the hype of ML technologies now.
"Rather than seeing exponential improvements in the quality of AI performance (a la Moore’s Law), we’re instead seeing exponential increases in the cost to improve AI systems"
“Our approach, I still believe, was the right one but the space was too overwhelmed with the unmet promise of AI to focus on a practical solution,”
"The S-Curve here is why Comma.ai, with 5–15 engineers, sees performance not wholly different than Tesla’s 100+ person autonomy team."
If developing a self-driving car that can perform enough requires that much effort and exponential budget, and if the problems that a self-driving car is trying to solve were able to be solved in an easier way, obviously the self-driving car company's future is not as fancy as normal people imagine.
Please comment with any thoughts regarding this topic!