They are so ahead of everyone.
I think everyone including regular car companies buy the tech from Waymo in the short term.
Imagine what would happen with fighter jets if they only had 3 main sensors. Lidar, Radar and camera.
LIDAR solves a lot of problems.
In the extreme case, if Waymo cars are 80%, Tesla cars can easily be 20% just based on the fact that Waymo cars will avoid most accidents made by Tesla software errors
- If there's a period where new self driving cars are popular but aftermarket self driving kits for older cars are unaffordable or nonexistant, then during this period, the price of non-self-driving cars will plummet dramatically. Who knows, you might be able to buy a 2 year old camry for $1000. The market for these cars will exclusively be (other than oddballs/enthusiasts) people whose wages are so low that driving yourself in a non-self-driving car is still cheaper in an overall sense than using self-driving cabs, so that will cap the possible value of such cars at a pretty low point.
- As long as (possibly as a result of the above) the number of human driven cars on the road is at all significant (like, at least 1% or 0.1% or something), the benefits you mention will be hard to attain. In a given trip a car interacts with hundreds of other cars.
- You forgot about pedestrians and cyclists. In many places, there are more of those than there are cars, anyway, so even if all cars are self driving,
- There's going to be weather and construction and falling trees and runaway skateboards and runaway trucks on ice covered hills and wildfires and so on. This kind of software will operate at scale, so improbable events become important to handle.
- Uber is probably dumb enough to hope your argument is true and think they can get away with half-assed self-driving, which is why they're going to fail miserably and go bankrupt.
- There's going to be regulation. As a made up example, if the "Waymo patent tax" is "just" $5000 per car, it's going to be pretty hard for a car manufacturer to justify to regulators that they'll instead develop competing software that is somewhat inferior in safety, but "acceptable", for the sake of saving, say, half of that $5000 (it still costs the thrifty manufacturer money to develop or buy their lower quality software!). All it'll take is one fatality and people will be up in arms. If the "acceptable" technology was the first one out, it'd be different, but it'll be hard to convince anyone it's worth the risk when there's better tech already out there. BTW, Waymo management would obviously be clever about setting a good price point that captures lots of value but still is low enough to discourage this kind of competition.
- My vague software and driving intuitions tell me it'd actually be easier to design a more general system anyway (massive handwaving). It's actually HUMANS (specifically those accustomed to easy suburban western driving conditions) who have a harder time driving when they can't assume everyone will follow the rules, not computers, and I think that's why so many people mistakenly (IMHO) imagine it'd be so easy to make self driving cars if only everyone followed the damned rules. The simplified laws of physics applicable to driving are simpler than the DMV manual anyway.
Do you think in your wildest dream that this exact scenario would ever be allowed to happen again by Tesla engineers? It may have crashed causing a fatality in this instance but it doesn't mean the prospect of camera only vision systems need to be written off. What people often overlook is that these systems get stronger with more and more edge cases and objectively the Tesla team are doing outstanding work with the sensor package that they have.
I'd guess the same world where human vision is perfect...
Does this factor into the quality of self-driving tech at all?
Tesla hasn't sent very high resolution data back home yet. Though they are looking to get video from customers now to help make this go faster.
So while Tesla has more vehicles on the road, that doesn't mean they are getting better data for self driving car research.
I wonder if they have WiFi base stations collecting data at Supercharger points? That's what I'd do.
That would still be only one slice of the many many situations you need to master, and that Waymo already has. E.g. something as simple as entering and exiting a small roundabout, like that YouTube video showed a Tesla couldn't do. Miles driven by Tesla owners aren't purposefully looking for those situations when they engage autopilot.
With how long commutes are in the US, a very very small fraction of miles driven by people on autopilot will be other than "the car was already on the highway, autopilot changed lanes a few times, and after a while was manually disengaged to take an exit".
That small fraction is what could be compared with the miles and number of cars driven by the other companies, because in the latter case it's hired drivers actively looking for conditions of interest to the engineers.
Even if so, uploading gigabytes of data every day is going to be noticed. While I'm sure they have the legal right to do so (via their TOS / EULA) they probably still don't want to emphasize that they're gathering that much data (unless you opt in to their fleet learning stuff).
Generally I think they do to access the Tesla App features. Tesla also have a network connection so they may already be uploading the information anyway over cell networks.
If not, I find it shortsighted and rather cheap that each car doesn't have it's own $50/month data plan (or whatever) to phone home important data.
To have a constant high speed IoT-like connection to the web for real-time updating and such?
I am sure some sort of volume discounts could be negotiated as well.
The fact that the trees got new leaves again this year and it's dark at 2am and the sign at the Chinese Restaurant is still red don't to be relayed.
More data isn't automatically better. The hard part isn't getting some magical quantity of data the hard part is asking the right questions of it.
A self driving system needs to solve this problem (the frame problem) anyway. So you get intelligence compression for "free".
In a sense, intelligence is compression.
> Something Rude. Real argument, which is stronger with first sentence removed.
You may be right (or wrong, I don't know) but opening with rudeness or insults makes it more difficult to have meaningful conversations.
Surely we're all adults and can talk about ideas candidly without having to beat around the bush and tell each other little white lies.
A while ago you told someone, "You speak in broad generalizations that miss many points and make many faulty assumptions. "
Any difference between your statement and mine comes down to how individuals respond to specific words. How about we rise above such pettiness and focus on the subject matter?
You've added nothing to this discussion and have wasted people's time.
What is your response doing?
What makes you believe that?
How many things happened today that won't happen next week, somewhere?
And please don't call me naive. That's rude. Disagree substantively; use your words.
Google is also a better computing company than Tesla, I imagine, whose strength is hardware, not software.
Then this is about sensor data or raw data, but there is thing known as compression which is quite common and can shrink size by an order of magnitude.
75MB/s seems closer to reality and manageable.
Waymo was ahead of where Tesla is now back in 2012. In a demonstration capacity, Waymo's cars were working 5 years ago, but in the intermittent time Waymo has been validating their software against every possible edge case they might encounter on a real world situation, and Tesla will have to do the same one way or another before their autonomous OS can operate safely without a babysitter.
There are several things to tackle and different approaches to things, the DARPA grand challenge is the practical one and waymo did not took part in any edition AFAIK.
It would be an absolutely disaster if the technology as a whole gets a horrible reputation, or even worse, banned in places, just because some company skipped some steps and wanted to be the first or cheapest to the market.
For example, Uber has a disengagement rate of once per 0.9 mile, whereas Waymo shows numbers higher up at 5000+ miles.
The California DMV report  has numbers for a couple other companies that tested in California. The other runners ups are Nissan and BMW with 247 and 638 miles respectively. Still an order of magnitude behind. But Volvo isn't there, and I'm curious to see concrete numbers. Because no amount of press and videos really means anything. Anyone can come up with a video of the car doing a nice ride. Google published one of those in 2009. It's spent the last 8 years perfectly that. That's the hard part, making it work in all cases, not just for one video.
Unless they have made some real breakthroughs and are managing to somehow keep them under wraps (seems unlikely), optimistically they have a 5 year lead on their competitors.
5 years is a good amount of time to be the only people with self-driving tech, but unless they actually use it to muscle in on some other industry it seems like they will be reduced to just another component supplier when enough competitors eventually catch up.
I don't understand your claim that they have to be a car company though. With this deal, it seems like they are (at least for now) targeting ride sharing, and arguably that's a much better use of the technology for many reasons.
For example, you don't have to worry about parking, you can put limits on where the car drives, you own the cars so you can track them, collect data and transfer it as you wish.
Also, wasn't Uber valued higher than Tesla, at least a few months back? So arguably as a business, it's as good if not better than being a car company, at least for now until the tech gets even better.
Maybe they can make some deals where they give a company exclusive access to self-driving tech for a given industry for a significant equity stake in that company, but I feel like no-one would really want to take that deal.
Having to also create and scale up production of a car as well sounds harder and much riskier.
And was it successful?
Which are still way, way off in the future (if ever).
I propose 'self-driving cars' are the 'flying cars' of our generation: Something that seems inevitable and just around the corner, yet here we are.
Self driving cars are also a pop culture thing - and the most aggressive deadlines and comprehensive deployments predictions are unlikely.
I recently bet my friend who is supremely confident that United Airlines business will be significantly impacted due to the passenger incident. Thus far, it appears United is doing just fine, in fact they may be on pace for a blowout Q2 quarter. Money in the bank.
Moral of the story... These types of negative incidents (In my opinion I call it the constant outrage complex) rarely affects finance fundamentals of solid businesses. If you want to take a moral stand against Uber you are absolutely entitled to that and that is fine with me.
I don't think uber (or lyft) will ever be totally dominant purely because of network effects. Passengers and (especially) drivers are mobile, and can switch services back and forward between apps. All you need to compete is a regional network. The global network is helpful on the margins, but an uber for Lisbon should work fine.
But I agree with you in the general case, certainly.
A savings of $50 for a one way trip is definitely at the point where the "spying" is worth it for me.
Assuming you trust them.
Assuming you trust them.
Pulling that extra effort to track Apple devices even after the app has been deleted and other shenagigans they pulled in violating their customer's privacy doesn't really help in the trust building department:
Their only explanation for literally lighting billions of dollars in funds on fire to subsidize rides is supposedly to consolidate market share. If they don't have a defensible position and they lose money on every transaction what exactly do they have to show for it?
Figuratively. But even that's not true, since customers have saved real money and spent it elsewhere.
Their plan, as far as I can see, is to totally dominate the market. Once, and if that happens, they will raise their prices, and once again the little guy's money will be going in the pockets of the big guys.
Usage #2: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/literally
And I was invoking definition #1 there, in case that wasn't clear.
Not unlike "egregious" .
Also, "sad" and "sated" aren't quite opposites but they're very different. Are you telling me you wouldn't be annoyed if people started talking about how sad they were at the end of a great meal?
("Objectively" is also being used as an intensifier in casual conversation, though I think always with a touch of irony... Good fun.)
Should literally be used for emphasis?
Sense 2 is common and not at all new but has been frequently criticized as an illogical misuse. It is pure hyperbole intended to gain emphasis, but it often appears in contexts where no additional emphasis is necessary.
Apples and oranges. Tesla is losing money because they are investing massive amounts of capital to improve their supply chain and production capabilities. Uber is losing money because they subsidize rides to try to push competitors out of business. Tesla is actually profitable. Uber? We don't know.
?? I think thats the wrong way to phrase this. Uber is loosing money as Uber and its competitors are giving a lot of incentives to drivers to win business. All of them are loosing money.
In effect, Uber is selling something at a lower cost than it buys, in order to acquire the market.
AFAIR they are not growing as fast as they were, and have been all but outlawed in many places already.
You're talking about a situation where a politician resigns to avoid being impeached or otherwise deposed.
That has basically zero to do with Uber and Lyft leaving Austin. We know exactly what laws Austin has (laws are not secret). And it's not like it's remotely unclear what happened: Uber and Lyft left in protest of the law requiring background checks for them. You could speculate that they were trying to strong-arm Austin into repealing that law, but it didn't work.
But there's zero reason to believe that they were secretly forced out, unlike the case with the politician, where the incentives are obvious.
United Airlines having a good Q2 quarters will not help Uber in any way escape the trial vs google or suddenly give them a profitable business model other than let's burn through investor money and conspire to get google technology to get rid of the drivers in the not so distant future.
The (non)availability of Lyft all over the world except one country. According to some quick googling, Uber exists in 80 countries without Lyft.
Which is why Uber wants to cut their dependence on drivers by using self driving cars. Then they will actually own something (the technology) in addition to the mindshare.
To kill the any future competition they jut need to start a global loyalty program.
Could just be regional, not really sure? I feel like even with Uber's issues many drivers who do ride-sharing as a "job" won't want to just drop Uber as it may mean losing out on income (not sure if they can make up the loss with driving more for Lyft).
The drivers I've talked to that just do it for a little extra cash overwhelmingly prefer Lyft. Most said it is because of the better pay but I've also heard more than once that Lyft customer's tend to be more well behaved in the car for whatever reason.
To be fair, this is all anecdotal and I usually prefer not making chit-chat but if the driver insist I always ask them their preference since the driver's always have an opinion that is interesting enough for the duration of the ride.
I have also heard this as well from lyft drivers and I am very curious as to why
Perhaps the people who value that sort of thing are better behaved? Or more likely, it's probably because the people who are willing to pay slightly more for a better experience are better behaved (like Walmart vs Target).
That also stand in contrast to exactly one two experiences with cabbies over ~25 years.
I conclude, based on my limited personal experience, that vetting drivers makes a noticeable difference in driver quality.
As a passenger, I exclusively use Lyft.
I'd say they would be one of the last places to transition.
Yeah, this is pretty key. If Uber's dominant position in the US is slipping but there's still a clear way for them to emerge on top globally and cash is the limiting concern, it seems likely they'll be able to continue subsidizing international expansion with more VC money.
PS: What convinced me to totally switch was this https://github.com/lyft/envoy, my way of saying thanks for the Lyft team.
When I first started using Lyft in 2014, there were many times when attempting to request a ride would return an error saying there are no nearby drivers, especially during rush hour (trying to get a ride at 8am was simply a no-go), and it wasn't uncommon for the nearest driver to be 20+ minutes away at various times of day. I actually heard a lot of drivers complain to me about how Lyft sends them pings from people ridiculously far away and saying that it would be better for all involved if Lyft didn't try to match people that far away and just returned an error instead.
Now? Neither of those situations have happened in recent memory. I can't remember the last time I got the "no drivers available" error, and at the absolute worst, I might get a driver 15 minutes away in the height of rush hour.
Edit: Forgot one more thing. I used to see drivers who had two phones for both Uber and Lyft all the time. Nowadays I don't see anyone doing that anymore.
Lyft is present in 300 cities in America.
Having IT people in SF using Lyft instead of Uber is only a tiny change.
Same goes with estimated cost of the ride. Uber tell me exactly how much I will have to pay while Lyft says $7-$12.
One more thing -- even though the press is hitting on Uber with lot of negative articles -- lot of this appears to be because those articles sell. Lot of the negativity seems exaggerated or seems to be the result of incomplete facts provided (for example, Mike Isaac on NYT said Uber uses Slice Intelligence to get aggregate anonymous data on market conditions; he did not mention that Lyft also does the same and that most companies have competitive intelligence teams. There are many other examples like this).
I like Uber that they went ahead and got cities to recognize the need for ride-sharing -- they were the first so they had to fight the regulations and entrenched taxi industry. In the end, that benefitted everyone - riders getting convenient, inexpensive rides, and drivers getting livelihood. Uber's competitors also benefited as the market was created by Uber already.
I was just trying to get an Uber the other day in a large city and I waited over an hour in the rain. The first N-1 drivers that accepted my request cancelled on me after 5 minutes.
Eventually, a driver picked me up. He didn't want to pick me up where I was, and had a very hard time communicating to me where he was. After some back and forth walks-100-ft-"Do you see me now?"-repeat for about 10 minutes, he asked me to just cancel the request.
I said no. I wasn't going to risk paying a fee to cancel. I was already waiting in the rain for an hour.
Eventually the driver found me and took me to my location. The whole ride was quiet until the driver decided to break the silence with full-volume anti-slavery rhetoric on the radio.
That day I learned that Uber's algorithms, whatever they are, led to at least a single very bad experience. I didn't downvote the driver. Instead, I just didn't rate him. That said, I'd say 95% of my Uber experiences were very good.
You prefer pro-slavery rhetoric on the radio?
Is there any real data out there on this? Talking to 10 drivers in one region of the US seems like a far cry from the kind of information you want to have to form an opinion on how the tides are shifting.
At the end of the day, there are still lots of reasons why Uber might not be slipping away as we think, and I think we would all benefit from at least an effort towards breaking out of our bubbles.
Or do you explicitly want a black car...?
For personal use I'd be fine with a rickshaw.
I expect that other parts of the world are the same.
As a Londoner: Huh? AddLee minicab drivers are infamous for being even more aggressive/xenophobic/inappropriate than black cab veterans. "Premium" they ain't.
But sure, if you want good service for the pampered "talent", you get a premium German private hire car, not the average Essex barrowboy...
Uber services aren't all Priuses with signs saying "Please rate 5-stars!" hanging off the front-seat head-restraints.
To signal other would be poachers and tech snatchers that you don't mess with the Google ?
To experiment outside of the google brand ?
To test waters before buying Lyft ?
To evaluate if it is better to enter the market providing rides to people or providing technology to companies providing rides to people ?
There are quite a few reasons for google to be a partner for lyft.
I see this as one of the primary motivating factors.
> To test waters before buying Lyft?
I don't foresee this happening, at least not the current iteration of Lyft. With the rise of autonomy, I can see Lyft pivoting in one of two directions: autonomous fleet ownership and management, or management of the use of individuals' personal autonomous vehicles while they would otherwise sit unused.
Google has the capital to purchase a fleet on its own, so I don't see Google buying Lyft if that becomes their primary business strategy. If it's the latter option, Google may see value in the Lyft brand. People are already working with Lyft to grind out supplemental income with their personal vehicles, so it may be an easier sell to potential vehicle-owners to go with Lyft.
> To evaluate if it is better to enter the market providing rides to people or providing technology to companies providing rides to people?
Definitely part of the story.
In the short term Waymo will have a very strong bargaining position because their technology is so advanced - Lyft cannot buy self driving tech from anyone else.
But in 10 years Lyft will be able to choose from a half dozen companies offering self driving tech. 'Ride sharing' will be a cut-throat commodity business like airlines, but Lyft won't be at a particular disadvantage compared to other companies in the industry.
If all you're building is the underlying technology, you NEED partnerships for an actual complete solution.
However, the self-driving cars remain a capital expense that someone has to finance. I couldn't Google up numbers easily, but it looks like the number of ride-hailed vehicles is in the multiple millions in the US. 1,000,000 autonomous cars at $50,000 each is a $50 Billion-per-million capital expense. I'd guess that the capital is out there, but would it be that raising and deploying that much capital takes as long as developing the autonomous technology? Globally, why wouldn't this be a $1 Trillion spend? Can Uber and Lyft pull that off?
However, I think an interesting approach would be to use a traditional Project Finance scheme  to obtain cheap, non-recourse loans in order to acquire and deploy large fleets. These schemes are common for infrastructure projects, which occasionally amount to billions of dollars. Under such a scenario, then the actual owners might end up being entities familiar with setting up these deals, and Waymo et al selling the technology/cars/platform (arguably of higher margins).
This is true, but as someone who grew up somewhere where there's snow on the ground 6 months out of the year, I'm wondering how we're going to deal with more extreme driving conditions. How reliable are these self-driving cars in ice and snow? Is there even a strong economic reason to solve this problem right now?
My concern is that we'll end up with a fleet of cars that work great 90% of the time, and then flat refuse to drive when they fall outside their design envelope. At that point driving will be a niche market: the pool of drivers for emergency vehicles (which can't just take the day off when it's snowing), and services in rural areas (where detailed maps and standard heuristics may fail) will be the only permanent workforce. Meanwhile anyone else with a licence will have to step in as a chauffeur when conditions get bad.
The evidence is that anti-lock brakes and variable traction controls have lead to a reduction in crashes in adverse weather conditions. Driving in snow and ice is hard. Why wouldn't a system that can make much finer and frequent adjustments outperform people? The only thing that is really holding back self-driving systems is the computer vision aspect, which is mitigated with Lidar and by further research into computer vision improvements.
As someone who also is skeptical of tipping, I can't for the life of me see why you'd prefer the Uber model.
Now there are drivers who bought their cars and have car loans to pay. But Uber stopped the incentive spigot and suddenly drivers are earning half of what they were making earlier.
Most drivers I speak to here are struggling to pay off their car loans. Some have resorted to sleeping in their cars and driving 12-18 hours a day just to make ends meet (not ideal for drivers or passengers).
The moment someone comes in with even a remotely better offer, most of them will jump ship.
I guess what I'm getting at is that a company valued at 69 billion dollars going out of business in less than 2 years should be a surprise to everyone.
Uber could be valued at a gazillion $, but if it can't make payroll in 90 days, it's got a problem that would be tough to fix, given the apparent lack of a profitable business model.
revenue $6.5 billion
losses excluding China $2.8 bn
$7 billion of cash on hand, along with an untapped $2.3 billion credit facility (bloomberg)
So they are not going bust tomorrow but whether they can build a real business from that is quite questionable.
Revenue is growing but losses are growing too, so revenue is not growing fast enough.
7 billions of cash means Uber will be broke in less than two years depending how much faster losses are growing compared to revenue.
Investors might become hesitant until they know where the lawsuit with google is going.
My interpretation is that, unless Uber finds a way to reverse steam and become profitable they are still around today but are on the way out and might be gone tomorrow.
UberEats for example is completely dying a death in London (this may be different for other markets). Speaking to a few restaurant chain owners they get virtually no orders through and the experience is terrible, because drivers get lost and the food gets cold. They then blame the restaurant and leave loads of bad reviews everywhere.
I genuinely think Uber has very limited network effects. The driver fleet can drive for other companies at the same time, the user will just use the app that is cheapest/works the best/has the best service. I don't see enormous stickiness there, and the other services they offer don't work well IMO.
nb. why on earth is ubereats a seperate app, for example? It should be in the same app.
Ever heard of bubbles ? Well they inflate until they burst in a poof where a few trillions disappear.
Remember the dot com bubble bursting at the beginning of the 2000's ? Expect something similar in a not so distant future as the bubble cycle repeats itself.
So yes a 69 billion dollars market valuation for a company does not mean anything other than investors made a bet this company would somehow pay them back their money plus extra at some point.
The answer might be yes and I'd go with yes, but if they're for some reason on what they see as a death spiral, they could return some investor money and call it quits.
60+ billions valuation for a company losing over 2 billions a year or one third of their total revenue, seems like a big pile of horse manure.
Reddit was much smaller than Digg for years: https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=2005-06-01%202... . Reddit was definitely "the little engine that could" for about 6 years, but it was really in 2010 when Digg imploded with the self-inflicted wounds of Digg v4 when Reddit really took off.
In other words, MySpace losing to Facebook seemed largely because Facebook just had a better product (cleaner, focused on real identities), while Digg, like Uber, largely was the victim of self-inflicted wounds.
Sorry, I know flickr sucks but it seems ncomment original website is now gone, the comics survived on flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/25036088@N06/sets/721576159246...
Edit: the innovation of the News Feed can't be overstated. IIRC, MySpace had nothing like it and it's hard to remember Facebook before it.
Rupert Murdoch bought Myspace for quite a sum as an attempt to get into the online business because all their attempts failed miserably for a lack of understanding and vision. The same drove myspace to its expected outcome.
If it's competition you're concerned about: they have a well documented record of sabotaging their competition, rather than winning on merits. They're not good for the market they are in, which is bad for all of us.
There are also some other reasons we want them to die, relating to their being an abusive employer, which I'd like to think would have consequences for their reputation in our community.
In fact, Google's Java lawsuit with Sun/Oracle seemed worse for Google to me, as Google empployees openly discussed in emails that they were violating licensing terms and still did it.
I think it's abundantly clear at this point that both Lyft and Uber use monopolistic anti competitive tactics.