Don’t hold your breath for self-driving car technology


2022 election

Fig. 1. John Fetterman as mayor of Braddock, photograph uncredited and undated, via Next Pittsburgh,[1] fair use.

Aaron Blake, “4 takeaways from the Fetterman-Oz debate,” Washington Post, October 25, 2022,

Philadelphia Inquirer, “Who won the debate? Our Opinion staff weighs in,” October 25, 2022,

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Mehmet Oz, John Fetterman debate in confrontation heavier on attacks than substantive policy,” October 25, 2022,

Ryan Lizza and Eugene Daniels to Playbook Daily Briefing list, “How much will John Fetterman’s rocky night matter?” Politico, October 26, 2022,

Tina Nguyen, “Oz’s Perfect Storm & MAGA’s Ye Problem,” Puck News, October 26, 2022,

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Medical experts weigh in on John Fetterman’s stroke recovery after U.S. Senate debate with Mehmet Oz,” October 26, 2022,

Self-driving cars

Fig. 2. Photograph by Mark Doliner, August 1, 2012, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0.

It appears that Christopher Mims’ article observing that driver assistance systems were improving significantly[2] from about three years ago was prescient:

Ford said in its third-quarter earnings report released Wednesday [October 26, 2022] that it made a strategic decision to shift its resources to developing advanced driver assistance systems, and not autonomous vehicle technology that can be applied to robotaxis. The company said it recorded a $2.7 billion non-cash, pretax impairment on its investment in Argo AI, resulting in an $827 million net loss for the third quarter.

That decision appears to have been fueled by Argo’s inability to attract new investors. Ford [chief executive officer] Jim Farley acknowledged that the company anticipated being able to bring autonomous vehicle technology broadly to market by 2021.[3]

It seems that, no matter what Elon Musk keeps saying about it, full self-driving capability is still quite a very long ways off.[4]

I was just thinking about the problem this morning and realized, especially in Pittsburgh, there are numerous ambiguous situations—and computers just don’t do well with ambiguity. I’m not sure this is a problem that even can be solved.

Kirsten Korosec, “Ford, VW-backed Argo AI is shutting down,” TechCrunch, October 26, 2022,

  1. [1]Kim Lyons, “Braddock Mayor John Fetterman keeps on truckin’ in his quest for the Senate,” Next Pittsburgh, March 11, 2016,
  2. [2]Christopher Mims, “Self-Driving Cars Have a Problem: Safer Human-Driven Ones,” Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2019,
  3. [3]Kirsten Korosec, “Ford, VW-backed Argo AI is shutting down,” TechCrunch, October 26, 2022,
  4. [4]Kirsten Korosec, “Ford, VW-backed Argo AI is shutting down,” TechCrunch, October 26, 2022,

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