The hype about autonomous cars is breaking with reality – economy


The plan was ambitious: the car dealer about It expects 2016 to be able to operate 75,000 autonomous vehicles this year. This would have Uber the largest block of costs, the payment of drivers, can significantly reduce. Under the plan, by 2022, 13 major cities around the world must be served with these robotic taxis.

Now Uber wants to go public. And the prospect requires facts, not visions. Therefore, Raquel Urtasun, chief engineer of the Uber Advanced Technologies Group, said: "We will see autonomous vehicles in our lives, but the time is not clear." It will take a long time for the technology to be widely used.

Investors are skeptical

The hype surrounding stand-alone vehicles has recently been eased by Lyft's initial public offering. The company would lose more than 20% of market value in just a few days. This is a clear indication of the skepticism of many investors, given the fact that Lyft makes a loss on each trip. There was no lack of warning.

In the prospectus, Lyft described a much slower timeline for standalone cars than the promoters of the new technology did a few months ago. It would take 10 years for a fleet of cabs without a driver to be available. And just five years later these robot cabs could be used outside cities for long distances.

Expectations in terms of stand-alone cars were driven mainly by Uber and its founder, Travis Kalanick. In 2016, he described the rapid introduction of stand-alone technology as "existential" for the company. Uber immediately bought rival company Otto and hired his chief engineer Anthony Levandowski, who was celebrated as a prodigy of new technology.

"Venture capital companies cover the loss of each trip. Such a business model can only survive for a limited time." Jason Schlotzer, professor of economics at McDonough School of Business

Since then, Ucr has invested more than $ 900 million in stand-alone cars, according to Techcrunch estimates. The engineers were convinced that the acquisition of Otto would accelerate the development of the fleet without a driver for years and the first 75,000 wagons could already be underway in 2019.

But the euphoria disappeared. Otto's purchase did not speed up development, but even obstructed it, chief engineer John Bares said in a recent court filing. Otto did not even have usable laser technology. Instead, the integration of Otto Uber declined dramatically.

Another setback was the fatal collision of a stand-alone vehicle with a pedestrian in Arizona. Test drives can be resumed recently – and reduced in size.

Video: Accident with Uber with autonomous car

The company has given up testing with automatic vehicles. Video: Reuters

It turns out that the behavior of pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers is difficult to predict. The human factor makes autonomous technology complex and expensive, forcing Uber to work with General Motors and Waymo on security issues.

But Uber and Lyft need a quick break. Both companies report large losses and can reach the profit limit only if they save costs. Uber's situation is also aggravated by the fact that growth is already stagnating. The company also slightly reduced the issue price of the new shares. However, the expected market value of 90 to 100 billion dollars is still extraordinarily high.

But the pressure from investors, who offered the company at high altitudes, is great. "In fact, venture capital firms are still subsidizing the business model, covering the loss of each individual journey," says Jason Schlotzer, a professor of economics at McDonough School of Business. "This business model can only survive for a limited time." (Tamedia Publishers)

Created: 04/17/2019, 16:48


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