The key argument of doubters on how fast the self-driving vehicles will go live is risk and the social acceptability (or the lack thereof) of deaths from vehicles making choices on their own. Truth to be told, yes, social acceptability is a steep barrier to entry for adopting technologies at large scale. You should nonetheless remember that innovation is not a clean decisive strike either, its death of the status quo by a thousand cuts.
Innovation is never about a single solution going live and then gradually improving (in which case I agree that we’d need AI and sensors from twenty years in the future).
No, innovation is messy. It’s a fractal portfolio of half-baked futures unfolding at the same time, crumbling, reformatting, merging and evolving in a very much Darwinian process.
The self-driving vehicle won’t happen from somewhere. It’s already appearing in dozens of corners of the market.
Here are 35 ways self-driving vehicles will go live before 2020; some of them already happened while you were theorizing the subject:
- Parking assistance in the street while you seat;
- Cars finding a spot by themselves in special parking zones while you walk away;
- Cars refueling themselves in a corner of shopping malls;
- Automated vehicles cross-crossing the vast area between external parking zones and airports;
- Shuttles connecting suburbs to local train stations;
- Self-driving mode for cars on the left lane of highways;
- Self-driving trucks convoy following a human operated lead truck on highways;
- Self-driving mode for trucks on the right lane of the highways;
- Automated delivery trucks following tramways for last-mile deliveries;
- Self-driving trucks emptying garbage containers in industrial zones at night;
- Shuttles and spare parts delivery between different locations of a campus, or a factory;
- Automated emergency vehicles on highways emergency lanes;
- Automated snow-plowing on mountain or country roads at night;
- Repairing drones on rail tracks;
- Self-driving mini shuttles inside airport corridors;
- Automated shuttles and luggages transfer on the tarmac;
- Self-flying trafic control drones above Los Angeles;
- Self-driving VIP helicopters in Rio de Janeiro;
- 100% Automated taxis in Singapore;
- Evacuating troops with autonomous armored cars in combat zones;
- Automated resupplying trucks for military that can self-destruct;
- Automated money collection for banks;
- On-demand self-driving buses in London;
- Self-driving shuttles in national parks;
- Self-driving wheelchairs on sidewalks;
- Self-driving Segways in large shopping malls;
- Self-driving fluvial/sea shuttles around New York or London;
- Firetrucks and all type of emergency vehicles with priority over normal trafic;
- Self-driving mode kicking in to make way ahead emergency vehicles;
- Zero human driving zones during Cannes Festival or Monaco Grand Prix;
- Self-driving mode automatically engaged to immediately park a stolen vehicle or a vehicle that a police car wants to control;
- Self-driving safety mode to autopilot a vehicle when driver fall asleep, or is unconscious;
- Self-driving safety mode escalating ABS emergency braking;
- Self-regulation of speed when collision identified a mile ahead of vehicle;
- Automated adjustment of speed and trajectory for learning drivers that fail to stay within safe parameters of driving.