Apple and Google's dreams of people buying self-driving cars and being driven around by cyber-chauffeurs by 2020 are bursting, it seems.
First, we reported that Google's auto autos find everyday things such as some traffic lights and junctions hard work, and that ideally, as a commercial product, the technology needs a processor capable of performing 50 trillion 16-bit math calculations a second to make decisions. That's way more than today's specialized chips from Nvidia and others can deliver.
A couple of Bay Area AI experts remarked to us privately over dinner that the autonomous vehicles are more or less running on rails, and the cars aren't particularly confident on unfamiliar roads and streets. Google's PR told us everything is fine.
Now, Bloomberg reports that the ad giant's program is running out of steam: staff are fleeing the project, which is looking overly ambitious and impractical compared to simpler super-cruise-control-like systems being developed by Uber and Tesla.
“Google still has an imperfect system and no clear path to go to market,” commented Ajay Juneja, boss of machine-learning biz Speak With Me.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that Apple has axed dozens of engineers while downsizing its self-driving car effort.
And nobody has worked out the liability issue: who loses in court when a self-driving ride slams into another vehicle? Google and Apple, the autonomous auto's owner, or everyone? ®