The Trough of Disillusionment

Wired alerts the world that self-driving cars have a long way to go:

OK, so you won’t get a fully autonomous car in your driveway anytime soon. Here’s what you can expect, in the next decade or so: Self-driving cars probably won’t operate where you live, unless you’re the denizen of a very particular neighborhood in a big city like San Francisco, New York, or Phoenix. These cars will stick to specific, meticulously mapped areas. If, by luck, you stumble on an autonomous taxi, it will probably force you to meet it somewhere it can safely and legally pull over, instead of working to track you down and assuming hazard lights grant it immunity wherever it stops. You might share that ride with another person or three, à la UberPool.

More precisely, the article is titled, “After Peak Hype, Self-Driving Cars Enter the Trough of Disillusionment”, a reference to the Gartner Hype Cycle.

Color me unconvinced. The Hype Cycle is conceptually interesting, but has been subject to numerous criticisms — most comically, that it is not actually a cycle, and most importantly, that it’s not really accurate.

Maybe self-driving cars will go through a trough of disillusionment, but that hardly seems guaranteed.

My guess, in the next decade a lot of cities will start to get self-driving cars. They probably will stick to specific, meticulously mapped areas, but those geofences will expand over time, as fleets of vehicles share sensor data.

That progress seems exciting, not disillusioning.

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