Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi epic, Blade Runner, promised flying cars and hyper realistic androids by Nov. 1, 2019.
Four years on, and we’ve got ChatGPT and autonomous taxis under extreme scrutiny.
Case in point: GM’s Cruise just recalled 950 of its robotaxis, a project it’s lost $1.9B on between January and September, per CNBC.
Cruise was touted as a way to improve accessibility in metro areas by offering safe, affordable, reliable transit in self-driving cars.
Cruise began testing driverless rides with a human safety driver in the passenger seat in San Francisco in 2020.
In August, California regulators allowed both Cruise and Alphabet’s Waymo to expand entirely autonomous services in San Francisco, despite pushback over safety concerns.
That same month:
- Several immobile Cruise cars blocked traffic, which Cruise blamed on a music festival that jammed wireless bandwidth.
- One Cruise vehicle got stuck in wet concrete.
- California demanded Cruise slash its fleet by 50% after two collisions, including one involving a fire truck en route to an emergency.
On Oct. 2…
… a hit-and-run driver struck a pedestrian who was flung into the path of a Cruise vehicle. The vehicle braked and pulled over — but dragged the pedestrian ~20 feet.
The collision was one factor in the California Department of Motor Vehicles revoking Cruise’s license for driverless rides, requiring a human driver.
Cruise has since acknowledged defects in its software, brought in outside investigators, shuttered operations nationwide, and paused production of its autonomous van.
Yesterday, CEO Kyle Vogt admitted during a meeting that layoffs were forthcoming.
What about Waymo?
Still, Waymo has conducted three layoffs this year alone, and faces similar pushback from concerned city officials and residents.
In September, San Francisco asked the state to reconsider its both companies’ permits, citing 261 incidents involving Cruise and 85 involving Waymo between April 2022 and April 2023.
After all this, it may take a lot to gain the public’s trust.
BTW: The closest thing we have to flying cars are eVTOLs (Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing), which we may get to see in action by 2025.