design technology


Alphabet’s Waymo division is testing driverless taxis within a limited operating area of Arizona. Apart from the overt business advantages of this technology, I’m still trying to understand how driverless vehicles make life better. I’m certain there are incredibly bright people working on this technology, but I often think that technology should fundamentally support that singular goal: improve life.

Major challenges remain, starting with technical hurdles. A Waymo One taxi tested by Reuters last week proved slow and jerky at times.

Alexandria Sage for Reuters

Slow and jerky is just a bug — a smaller experiential piece that can be addressed over time. The more alarming bit of Sage’s piece:

“Waymo is now accelerating … because if they wait two or three years longer they will get overtaken,” Froehlich said on the sidelines of last week’s Los Angeles auto show. “So they have to move early, even though that’s quite a risky thing for them.”

Klaus Froehlich, BMW’s global head of development

The race to be first to market when you have not only your business to consider but the lives of customers in your hands is disturbing. We’re living in a historical period wherein technology doesn’t necessarily work as prescribed. If you want to find at a plausible culprit for technological failure, start with the rush to market and the deadlines imposed.