Timothy Lee, creator of the newsletter Understanding AI, thinks public perception is excessively pessimistic. Over the past few years, self-driving technology has constantly developed.
Waymo and Cruise “have continued to plug away at the problem,” Lee added.“These two firms presumably don’t believe self-driving technology is ‘decades away’ because they’re already testing it in Phoenix and San Francisco,” Lee wrote. He denied news reporting.
Money issues. After a decade of optimism, most self-driving car investments have failed. Uber and Lyft abandoned AV. Ford-Volkswagen split.
AVs may not reduce congestion. Since computers don’t utilize social cues to yield, the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Computer Science determined in May that the few autonomous cars on the road may aggravate traffic.
Public opinion is another barrier. AAA’s March poll showed decline.
Journalists cover AV failures. San Francisco Waymo cabs killed a dog in May. “We send our sincere condolences to the dog’s owner,” a Waymo official told the Guardian, one of numerous news outlets that reported a tragic but common incidence among the world’s 1.4 billion licensed drivers of nonautonomous vehicles.
Then there’s red tape. For two years, Fairfax County’s Mosaic shopping area tested a self-driving “Relay” electric shuttle. 350 travels eliminated it.
Virginia won’t extend the AV “Relay” shuttle, despite its success. Why not? Transportation expert Marc Scribner detailed governmental barriers to self-driving transit in a Reason Foundation Surface Transportation newsletter.
Scribner observed that most local agencies receiving federal transit funds must create employee rights under Section 13(c) of the Urban Mass Transportation Act.
The UMT Act “allows the elimination of jobs, but only as workers presently holding those jobs retire or vacate the positions for other reasons,” according to a 1976 Office of Technology report report. Thus, automating a transportation system may postpone economic benefits for several years until retraining, transfer, or attrition can replace the lost workers. Direct recompense to affected workers may cease employment early but at a cost.
Scribner outlined how this restriction has impeded American transport automation and may make transit AVs hard to market. He continued, “Automation of subway systems has been possible since the early 1960s, but most transit agencies haven’t been ready to pay those short-term expenditures for long-term benefits.