Now I’m gloomy again.
Why? Not because of the technology. And not because of the regulation. But because of the liability. Self-driving cars represent a massive one–one that I’m not sure companies will take on.
Now, luckily, as many others are observing, a crazy tort system is somewhat unique here in the US and driverless cars need not multiply in the land of their birth.
My guess would be that promising-but-scary technology is more likely to be pioneered in a poorer country, since as people get wealthier they tend to become more risk averse and prioritize safety. But if something proves really useful and basically safe in some subset of countries, the pressure to change the rules elsewhere should become intense.
Good luck to Singapore or wherever but tweak US tort law? It is hard to describe how immense a task that is.
Putting these things onto roads full of human drivers means you probably don’t gain any macro benefits of more orderly roads. Handsfree driving is nice and all but is a few more hours of daily facebook for commuters going to spur Congress to the most fundamental overhaul of the legal system in generations?
For me it’s still filed with tacocopter and segways under ‘cool, technically viable idea: never going mainstream’.