This is a synthesis blog for Dylan Hong's semester. It covers all topics he has blogged about and some of what his final project worked on.
Alphabet’s Waymo is already on the streets. It’s important to note that they have not yet begun public usage. In other terms, nobody outside of the Waymo bubble has had the chance to be chauffeured around by the first legitimately driverless cars on the road. Waymo plans to roll out the service to the entire Phoenix area, but is currently confined to small parts of the city. According to Ars Techinica, Waymo is planning on replicating this roll-out style in the rest of the country when they have a large enough fleet of cars. The success of this operation is critical to the public’s perception of self-driving cars. This is the first time that regular people will be piloted in cars with no human at the steering wheel.
Highway driving is a very constrained use case, which has allowed successful testing of autonomous technologies such as Tesla's Autopilot with little problem. But, cities pose unique challenges for AVs to cope with, and one of the largest challenge is the permanent presence of pedestrians. Safety of everyone should obviously be paramount, but just where the compromise lies between pedestrian and AV-rider convenience within cities is still to be determined.
Until autonomous vehicles are fully integrated into our cities transportation networks, I expect to see the technology solve similar but less risky problems. Autonomous driving is such a revolutionary technology is hard to get people to adopt outright byslowly introducing the population to these features slowly as the technology is improved, companies could start to alleviate some of the trust issues that could block full adoption of autonomous vehicles. For this reason the first widely available autonomous features will most likely be present in devices such as wheelchairs that can still provide some benefits without as much of a leap in trust.
There are two clear lanes for autonomous vehicles to enter: personal AVs and ride sharing or communal self driving cars. This post examines two companies, Audi and Uber, going after different segments of the market in order to examine which is best positioned for success?