Autonomous vehicles will spend decades in refinement before the Tesla dream of fully automated vehicles is realized. And even after the technology has been developed, it will spend more years “penned” in clearly defined locations, such as airports, corporate campuses, construction/mining sites, industrial parks and warehouses.
Eventually, driverless commercial and public transportation vehicles will be used along routes that are clearly and tightly structured.
In an industry constantly beset with frequent and serious recalls, and mega-dollar lawsuits stemming from mechanical failures, as much attention should be given to technological failures as the promises automakers and tech companies are making to their shareholders.
And, further complicating the rise of driverless vehicles are emerging federal guidelines governing how they should be managed that give more control to the federal government over state governments.
For every promise of a Jetsons-like near-term automated vehicle future, there is a parallel and under-reported track of failed tests, some that would have been catastrophic in real-life settings.
Already this year, auto sales have sunk and subprime loans have escalated. The industry, which has failed for a generation or more to create breakthrough, innovative products, is now pumping tens of billions of dollars into a driverless vehicle that will not materialize as efficiently and quickly as they predict. This will increasingly create downward pressure on auto company stocks, making them targets for Chinese takeovers and other mergers and acquisitions.