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Big Revolution - Lost in autonomous confusion

Welcome to Tuesday's Big Revolution. Today I'm feeling 🤔 about autonomous taxis. – Martin
October 23 · Issue #240 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Tuesday’s Big Revolution. Today I’m feeling 🤔 about autonomous taxis.

Big things you need to know today
  • The former CEO of Oculus is leaving Facebook over a disagreement about the future of the the VR headsets. Brendan Iribe wanted to focus on hardcore PC gaming, Facebook wants to make VR more mainstream and accessible to the masses – according to TechCrunch.
  • Ford has joined the list of companies planning self-driving taxis. After a test period in Washington DC, it plans launch a commercial service in the USA capital city, Miami and elsewhere in 2021.
  • US scooter company Lime is launching brick-and-mortar stores to help promote its brand. It’s the latest example of how the flood of VC-backed scooter companies are seeking to stand out from each other.
The big thought
Credit: Waymo
Lost in autonomous confusion
With Alphabet’s Waymo imminently set to launch the world’s first self-driving taxi service in Phoenix, Arizona (they’re already in testing with members of the public), it’s no surprise that other firms are keen to show how close they are to their own launches.
The headlines this week promise that autonomous taxi services will launch in the UK and elsewhere in the US within three years.
Contrast that with the recent news that Tesla is removing its ‘full self-driving’ option. Elon Musk admitted that it was causing too much confusion, seeing that it does nothing at all right now. This is especially understandable when you consider that Tesla has an assisted driving feature it calls 'Autopilot.’
'Confusion’ is the right term. According to Thatcham Research, 70% of people believe you can buy autonomous vehicles already, and 11% “said they’d be tempted to have a nap, read a paper, or watch a film while using one of the highway-assist features available today,” Wired reports.
This all seems very cart-before-horse, or even 'car-before-A.I.’ I’m seeing very little indication that self-driving tech will be ready for use in normal traffic by 2021. Even if the tech was ready, making sure laws are in place and existing insurance policies are carefully reworded to account for driverless vehicles will take much longer.
Aggressively pushing promised timescales to the shortest possible window do nothing but hype up tech that will likely not be mature enough for mainstream use for years.
At best, it will leave the public disillusioned with the 'slow’ progress of autonomous tech. At worst, it will leave them injured or dead as the grossly over estimate the abilities of the tech they can use today.
One big read
Android: a visual history of Google’s OS on its 10th anniversary
An impressive deep dive into how Android has evolved over the past decade. And how mobile OS design has become a lot sexier.
That’s all for today...
See you tomorrow. In the meantime, if you like this newsletter, please share it with a colleague or friend and encourage them to subscribe. Thanks!
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