Brad Templeton über die Presseberichte, ein „Winter“ sei gekommen für die Entwicklung selbstfahrender Autos, welche nur zu gern von den etablierten Automarken der Presse gegenüber unterfüttert werden, um den kommenden Wandel vielleicht doch noch etwas hinauszögern zu können:
We continue to see lots of reports of a „pull back“ on robocars, a „winter“ of sorts. It is often presented as „the problem was harder than people expected“ […]
There is one factor not being talked about in the idea of a pull-back. Namely that the big car companies would not mind a slowdown at all, and so will happily confirm this narrative, whether it is true or not. The reality is these companies were dragged into this. No industry relishes the arrival of a new technology which will turn it upside down. Those are dangerous waters, and while some car companies will thrive, several will fall. Every sane OEM wants to continue the world where they were making good money selling the same cars they always made to customers, making incremental improvements.
Elektromobilität ist dank Tesla in der breiteren Öffentlichkeit angekommen, selbstfahrende Autos dank Google. Die klassischen Automarken waren hier nicht die initialen Treiber (und sind es bis heute nicht):
The arrival of electric was forced by Tesla, and the arrival of Robocars by Google. I remember talking to the robocar teams at car OEMs in the early part of this decade. Those teams had existed for some time, but they had modest budgets and were considered far-future R&D. Then Google came out of stealth, and the press were writing „The future of the car is coming from a search engine company.“ Car OEMs did not like that one bit. So suddenly the small teams became big teams with big budgets. Major efforts took place to sell the message that car OEMs were not irrelevant, that the robocar of the future would come from them, because Silicon Valley doesn’t know how to make cars.
(It’s true, that Silicon Valley still has much to learn about making cars. But it’s a mistake to think it can’t learn, or that it can’t simply pay car manufacturers to contract manufacture cars. The old knowledge of how to make cars is deep, but it’s old and thus for sale at reasonable prices.)
Templeton über einen Teil der vielzähligen wahren Gründe, warum selbstfahrende Autos auf sich warten lassen:
The small amount of pull-back that is not about public perception comes from a few factors.
- We’re notoriously bad at estimating complex software timelines. We’re bad even when we take into account how bad we are. Even the best project managers look at their realistic timeline for a project, which might suggest it will take 2 to 5 years, and talk about how it can happen in 2 years. It might, but that’s not the most likely outcome. In this case, the range is large — 2 to 10 years, making this worse.
- For those with less experience, there is misunderstanding of the 90/10 rule which in robocars is the 99/1 rule. The first 99% takes 1% of the time. The last 1% takes 99% of the time. It’s „easy“ to produce a car that can drive a nice demo loop and stay in its lanes or drive the highway 99% or even 99.9% of the time. Sweating the details is hard, which is why Waymo is still going slow after 10 million miles of testing.
There are legitimately people who did not understand how hard it really is.
- The talk of „Level“ 5 as a quasi-real thing blinded some to the reality that these vehicles will only operate in certain roads and driving situations for a long time. It seems that some people thought they were promised this „level“ some time in the early 2020s, which was hopefully never promised.
- The Uber fatality has raised public fear and with it developer caution. Everybody knew an injury accident would happen some day. An early fatality due to really bad practices was less anticipated, and has, as would be expected, used up a fair bit of the public’s tolerance for error.
- We’re seeing expected blowback from the public as it gets first exposure to real use of these cars. In prototype form — and in Uber’s case hurting people — you expect the public to react in a way they did not when it was all hypothetical.
Wie langsam oder schnell selbstfahrende Autos alltägliche Realität werden, werden wir besser abschätzen können, wenn die Zahl der Pilotprojekte nach oben geht. Das wird die Jahre 2019 und 2020 bestimmen.
The best teams will be moving into pilot projects this year and the next, with other teams coming later. Once the pilot projects are underway, we’ll learn more about where the remaining issues are and how the public reacts to the technology. While people like to throw out dates, the real release date has always been „when a team can convince its lawyers and board that the technology is safe enough to deploy without creating massive risk for the company.“ That’s a milestone, not a date.
Es ist wahrscheinlich, dass aus den Erfahrungen der Pilotprojekte auch Erkenntnisse erwachsen, was bei Straßenbau und -instandhaltung nicht nur regulatorisch sondern auch sensorenseitig der Verbreitung selbstfahrender Autos zuträglich sein könnte.
Denn es gibt Regionen international, vor allem asiatische Metropolregionen, die lieber heute als morgen ihren Verkehr mit selbstfahrenden Autos optimieren und damit entlasten wollen. Dafür werden dann dort auch Gelder für Infrastrukturprojekte bereitstehen.