A great invention they might be, but excitement won’t buy you a driverless car. As always, the political barriers have been overlooked.
In a time of squeezed living standards where increased government borrowing and privately-funded infrastructure have fallen out of favour, it is likely that revolutionary changes to global infrastructure will be opposed from all quarters. Driverless cars could be run off the road.
But perhaps more importantly, there is a real human dimension to this story, lost behind the giddy squeals of tech nerds:
…driverless cars pose existential questions for several important interest groups. By some accounts, there are 10m Americans employed in industries related to driving…
Consider the introduction of autonomous school buses. It would not be practical to roll out autonomous buses across the board instantly – even in the fastest of revolutions, things can be staggered. So imagine the fear and outrage of those parents whose children go first into the driverless death machine. With nothing less than a well-orchestrated campaign, moments like this could easily spiral out of control, halting the entire process.
It is both frustrating and deeply unsurprising that policy makers have failed to recognise any of these obstacles. But just because Zuckerberg and Musk say it’s cool doesn’t make it good policy.