Photo by Pat Kay on Unsplash

Hindsight 2021

April 26th, 2021
Photo by Pat Kay on Unsplash

September 2016, from the co-founder of Lyft (emphasis on the timeline mine):

Last January, Lyft announced a partnership with General Motors to launch an on-demand network of autonomous vehicles. If you live in San Francisco or Phoenix, you may have seen these cars on the road, and within five years a fully autonomous fleet of cars will provide the majority of Lyft rides across the country.

December 2020, Uber exiting the much-hyped business of replacing human drivers with self-driving cars:

Uber Technologies Inc. sold its self-driving-car unit to a Silicon Valley competitor, Aurora Innovation Inc., in the latest business exit by the ride-hailing company as it aims to deliver on a promise to shareholders to become profitable.

April 2021, right around the projected mark of 2021 being the year where “a fully autonomous fleets of cars will provide the majority of Lyft rides across the country”, Lyft offloading their (failed) self-driving car division to Toyota:

Lyft, Inc. (LYFT) announced today that the company has signed an agreement with Woven Planet Holdings, Inc., (“Woven Planet”), a subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation, for the acquisition of Lyft’s self-driving vehicle division, Level 5

As I said just two years ago, self-driving cars are highly unlikely to happen within the next 20 years, with the following disclaimer:

By self-driving cars I mean the combination of technology and legislature that would give me the option, owned, leased or on-demand, to have a vehicle for myself and my family to get me from point A to point B at my time of choosing. The only mandatory condition is that it would not require me to pay any attention to what is happening during the trip.

If I am required – by technology or by law – to be able to take over the control of the vehicle at any point in time, that is not a self-driving car in my world. If the technology is only available on specific roads (highways, for example) or under very specific weather conditions, that is also not a self-driving car in my world.

I still stand by my prediction. If anything, I’ll make you another deal. As long as the loudest voices in the business of selling this pipe dream keep on saying that self-driving cars will be here within 5 years, I’ll keep on saying that self-driving cars will not happen in at least 20 years. Let’s see who wins this little game.