Autonomous Vehicle Industry Hits a Bump in the Road

Slashed budgets, executives heading for the exits, and delayed dreams—the autonomous vehicle industry is taking longer to get on the road than industry supporters expected.

Read Time: 1 minute

November 2, 2022, 10:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

“This is what happens when long-gestating new technology meets the short patience of public markets and harsh reality of rising interest rates,” writes David Welch for Bloomberg Hyperdrive. 

The headline on the article is just as provocative, reading “Driverless Car Development Sets Ablaze a Bonfire of Billions.”

All in all, the promise of autonomous vehicles taking over the roads, relieving congestion, eliminating the need for parking, and ending traffic fatalities forever is still a pipe dream. And at such a cost. “Autonomous vehicle companies and suppliers have collectively spent around $75 billion developing self-driving technology, with scant sign of meaningful revenue emerging from robo-car services after all that cash incineration,” writes Welch. 

A few examples of those ‘scant’ signs of self-driving progress can be identified in the news of recent weeks—like Waymo launching an autonomous taxi pilot in Los Angeles, a rural shuttle program in Minnesota, and an autonomous shuttle program to replace Jacksonville's aging monorail system.

In the meantime, however, autonomous vehicle companies are slashing budgets, pulling the plug, and saying goodbye to high ranking executives. “The lesson is that technology as radical as robotic driving was always better off in the incubators of daring venture capitalists, not the portfolios of trigger-happy stock traders,” writes Welch. 

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