When UBER started using self-driving cars for its regular service in San Francisco last year, it didn’t obtain the necessary license which would have compelled it to share data on disengagements, amongst others. UBER, in it’s laissez-faire attitude towards regulation, decided it didn’t need to comply, as there would be human operators aboard. It didn’t take long for video footage of an UBER car barrelling through a red light to emerge. UBER issued a non-denial denial, arguing it was a human’s fault, but, as emerged this week, it wasn’t. And that’s just one part of the saga that unfurled for UBER over the last week. Waymo, née Google’s Self-Driving Car project, filed suit against UBER for theft of intellectual property, that Otto’s founder is said to have taken with him when departing to found the self-driving trucking firm – which itself flouted Nevada requirements for self-driving tests – subsequently acquired by UBER.
The approach to self-piloted vehicles pursued by actual car manufacturers looks more reasonable by the day. This is heavily regulated territory, after all, and “Move fast and break things” not only risks lives here, but will get the regulators up in arms. Nevermind that, to bring self-driving vehicles to the market, you have to have people trust them. UBER did everything it can to destroy that trust. So it’s not surprising that there’s talk about Silicon Valley already having lost the battle for self-driving car dominance.
Lastly, it’s not homes that can be haunted by previous owners, as discussed above, but cars, too. The increasing incorporation of smart phones into a cars functionality, coupled with poor attention to security on part of the manufacturers, leads to weird situations like not being able to revoke previous owners’ access to your car.
The clash of traditional industries and software is far from resolved, indeed, and if this week is any guidance, we better buckle up.