After Billions in Investment, Self-Driving Cars Are Still More Hype Than Reality

Will the self-driving car industry be the next one to follow the crypto crash?
self-driving cars

People are now wondering if the self-drive car industry is all hype.

What happens to a hyped-up marketplace? Need an answer, just look at the crypto markets that have seen a loss of over 2 trillion dollars in one year and big investor names pull out from supporting them. This is because people have discovered altcoins and shit coins are built on nothing but hype.

Will the automated self-driving car industry be the next hyped-up industry to die?

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After Billions in Investment, Self-Driving Cars Are Still More Hype Than Reality 4

There is a lot of hype around automated self-driving cars, but it is unclear if they will ever live up to the hype. Some experts believe they will be a game-changing technology, while others think they will be nothing more than a hyped-up market. Only time will tell if automated self-driving cars will be a success or a failure. What do we know about this marketplace now?


What does the future of autonomous self-driving cars look like?

Imagine your surprise if you lived in an area that prohibits through traffic, and one morning, you looked out of the window to see a white Jaguar SUV making its way out of your driveway. On the roof appears to be a massive fan, but it is actually a laser sensor featuring the emblem of Google’s Waymo business, which specializes in driverless cars. The vehicle appears to be using your land to complete a three-point turn. Ok, the first time you see this happen on your land, you think no big deal. Then over the coming weeks, dozens of Google cars start repeatedly arriving at your driveway doing the same maneuver on a daily basis.

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Waymo self-driving car side view by Grendelkhan under CC BY-SA 4.0

As well as being bemused, you would probably be slightly ticked off, especially if you are a dog or a cat owner or have young children on your property. This scenario isn’t a made-up one; it is not even from the future; it is a real-life scenario that went on several weeks last year that Jennifer King shared with Max Chafkin, a reporter for Bloomberg news. She was getting disturbed by an apparent bug in Google self-driving cars as early as 2 a.m some mornings!

King complained to Google about how the automobiles drove her crazy, but Google continued to make the K-turns. Sometimes a couple of the SUVs would arrive at the same time and form a little line. Chafkin humorously states the cars gave the impression of a zombie army of driver’s education pupils. The entire situation continued for several weeks until October of last year when King finally decided to call the local affiliate of CBS. At that point, a television crew began broadcasting the incident. The report started off by saying, “It is kind of funny when you watch it.” “And it’s clear that the neighbors are taking notice.” Shortly after that, the driveway at King’s house was once again hers.


What did the Google company Waymo have to say about this?

Chafkin reports that Waymo disagreed that its technology was ineffective and stated in a statement that its vehicles had been “obeying the same road rules that any automobile is obligated to follow.” Incidents like this have been regarded by the corporation and its competitors in Silicon Valley and Detroit as isolated potholes on the path to an autonomous future without steering wheels. 

Are autonomous cars ready to take over from people?

Chafkin writes that one of the most widely held beliefs in the business world is that people are horrible drivers

You probably have your own pet who hates about what annoys you most about other people’s driving. Wouldn’t you like to see all annoying drivers removed from the road and replaced with self-driving machines? Some driving habits that annoy others are:  

  • Tailgating 
  • Not using turn signals 
  • Cutting people off 
  • Speeding 
  • Weaving in and out of traffic 
  • Not yielding to pedestrians

Most of us are probably irritated by the driving skills of others at some point, if not regularly, whether it’s the fast driver who you suspect has been drinking, the slow, cautious driver who isn’t in a hurry or doesn’t know your part of town, the distracted driver chatting on their phone, or the driver who costs you your position at the stop lights on your way home. It’s understandable to hope self-driving cars will one day replace all these annoying drivers.

There are numerous causes of road rage, but the following are some of the most common:

  • Frustration with traffic conditions 
  • Anger at other drivers 
  • Road conditions 
  • Inclement weather 
  • Being in a hurry 
  • Feeling stressed or overwhelmed

A robot driver doesn’t feel any of these things, or at least not yet. Whether AI is sentient or will ever become sentient is a much-debated issue, but in terms of self-driving cars, this is one advantage that robots have over us. They don’t feel the same frustrations we have with other drivers that would bring most people out in a temper. For the most part, it is expected that self-driving cars won’t behave erratically, ignoring signals, tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, etc., but that doesn’t mean that driving safely and following the rules of the road is always easy for AI technology to understand.

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After Billions in Investment, Self-Driving Cars Are Still More Hype Than Reality 5

For starters, sometimes driving safely while following the rules of the road can be contradictory. Many of us would relate to occasions when we have had to break the rules to drive safely. This is difficult for robots that follow strict algorithms to compute. Chafkin writes stating anyone who has driven home on the Cross Bronx Expressway at rush hour may have the mistaken impression that this is common sense, but in reality, it is not even close to being accurate. If you challenge even the most advanced robot to perform a challenging driving task, you’ll be lucky if the robot lasts more than a few seconds before it gives up.

What Chafkin describes is not that uncommon. Currently, many experts are not sure that self-driving vehicles’ AI can handle billions of unexpected ‘edge cases’ that happen in daily traffic. Self-Driving cars still need remote human supervision for ‘Edge Cases,’ and could continue to do so for a very long time.

Producers of self-driving cars are not living up to their hype

Chafkin describes in their article how over the course of more than a decade, spectacular demonstrations from firms such as Google, GM, Ford, Tesla, and Zoox have promised automobiles that are capable of piloting themselves through chaotic urban settings on motorways and in adverse weather without any input or supervision from a human being. The firms have argued that they are on the cusp of eradicating road deaths, rush-hour traffic, and parking lots, as well as turning the $2 trillion global automotive industry on its head.


Chafkin’s article text covers some core issues which are still plaguing the industry today:

  • There are vanishingly few autonomous vehicles on the road today.
  • They are typically restricted to a small number of locations inside the Sun Belt.
  • The most advanced robot cars have trouble navigating obstacles such as construction sites, animals, traffic cones, crossing guards, and “unprotected left turns.”
  • Cruise LLC, majority-owned by General Motors Co., recalled all of its self-driving vehicles earlier this year after an accident in San Francisco where two people were injured. The accident was caused by one car’s failure to turn left, which contributed to the accident. According to a statement made by Aaron McLear, a spokesman for Cruise, the recall “does not influence or change our existing on-road operations.”
  • Pronto uses the same system for driverless vehicles as it does for semis, which may not be safe.

After firms such as McKinsey & Co. estimate that investors have invested nearly $100 billion into the self-driving car industry, a growing number of people are coming to the conclusion that the world of robo-taxis is not just around the corner. A possible workaround to the issue of self-driving taxis not being safe on the road is to do as Boeing is doing and develop self-driving flying taxis instead.

Is the industry a swindle?

George Hotz, whose business Inc. manufactures a driver-assistance system comparable to Tesla Inc.’s Autopilot, describes the situation as “a swindle.” According to him, these companies have squandered billions of dollars through wasteful spending.


In 2018, financial experts estimated that Waymo LLC, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. at the time, was worth $175 billion on the market, since then, its value has dropped dramatically. The most recent investment round for the company resulted in a projected worth of $30 billion for the business.

  • Aurora Innovation Inc. has lost much of its value in the last year. 
  • The company is now worth less than $3 billion -Chris Urmson, formerly in charge of autonomous vehicles at Google, is one of the company’s co-founders. 
  • In September of this year, a memo that was supposed to be from Urmson but was leaked instead stated that Aurora would have to sell itself to a larger company because of its cash-flow problems., Voyage, Zoox, and Uber’s self-driving section are just a few examples of the companies and projects Chafkin lists as promising the most but ultimately failing to materialize their potential. 

The core issues seem to be that the companies are not generating enough revenue and that the technology is not yet advanced enough to be commercially viable.


Some benefits to developing the self-driving industry

There have, however, been some benefits to developing the self-driving industry. Pronto’s driverless technology is being used in the mining industry. According to Anthony Boyle, Director of Production at BoDean, the Pronto trucks save between four and five hours of labor each day, which allows drivers to take over loaders and excavators. The roads may be pitted, extremely steep, and extremely narrow; as a result, the trucks have to come dangerously close to scraping the cliff wall as they rattle down the roller coaster-like grade.

However, because the journey is always the same and there are no unusual circumstances — for example, rush hour, school crossings, or daredevil scooter drivers — the robot trucks do not have to perform an awkward multipoint turn before dumping their loads; instead, they drive up the hill in reverse, which speeds up the process of reloading each truck. 

Self-drive cars do depend on internet connectivity. Because connectivity can be intermittent at mining sites, the business developed its own networking technology, which it later spun off as a new company under the name Pollen Mobile LLC. Cat Culkin.


Anthony Levandowski, who co-founded Google’s self-driving car program, acknowledges that making rock quarries a little more productive is a bit of a letdown compared to his fantasies of creating massive fleets of automated automobiles. 

For the world, these accomplishments prove that this technology’s development has had some practical benefits, even if they aren’t necessarily benefiting an investor’s balance sheet. While making money isn’t everything in the evolution of technology, it looks like the industry is going to need to deliver more if investors are to stay interested. Anthony Levandowski, who was a pioneer in the field, is becoming more vocal as company losses in this field become more significant.

Perhaps it is only apt that companies like TESLA and their CEO accept payment in Dogecoin, a hyped-up cryptocurrency that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is worth what people think it is worth. Are investors being swindled or buying into a dream of a better system?