A couple of years ago, the technology world was abuzz with talk about the dawn of self-driving vehicles. Proponents of autonomous cars said the driverless wonders would result in benefits to society almost too good to be believed: fewer crashes, less road congestion, reduced fuel consumption and a virtual end to drunk driving arrests.
There is no doubt that the hype that surrounded autonomous tech has dwindled over the past year or so, however. Though Google’s Waymo is still testing self-driving cars here in Arizona, and other companies are testing other vehicles elsewhere, the excited chatter of 2017 and 2018 has turned to background noise here in 2020.
A recent column in Forbes examined why “autonomous vehicles seem stalled in the U.S.” Tech writer Jeff McMahon notes that one reason for the more cautious approach is that companies have come to realize that driverless tech is going to be more costly and more difficult to implement than it seemed a couple of years ago.
Thinking has been adjusted over time as testing (here in Arizona and elsewhere) has shown that the technology is simply capable of handling the infinite variables in driving – especially when vehicles are moving at higher speeds and crashes are more likely to be deadly.
Another factor in the hype slowdown: the conflicts in state laws and regulations regarding driverless cars. While Arizona has been open to experiments, other states are significantly less receptive to the idea of autonomous vehicles on their streets and highways. Companies investing in the tech are increasingly aware that they might have to make 50 separate arguments for their vehicles in the 50 states.
Driverless vehicles are still in development, however, and will one day be a significant part of vehicular traffic. For now, utopia is still off in the distance.
DUI arrests are still being made every day across the Valley of the Sun. And the best way to avoid the law’s harshest punishment remains a good lawyer experienced in effective drunk driving defense.