How Detroit’s fear of Silicon Valley sparked the autonomous vehicle gold rush

2020 was supposed to be the year of self-driving cars. That’s what General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Waymo and many others preached several years ago, anyway. But as 2020 begins to wind down, it turns out developing autonomous vehicles that are safe and reliable is much harder than anyone thought.

Many experts now believe automation could come to long-haul truckings first. Long-hauls trucks deal mainly with highways, which reduces the complexity of the autonomous vehicle system. Also, many self-driving car companies have zero revenue and high operating costs.

The hype surrounding self-driving cars is slowing. And a market correction is in progress, although the valuations of self-driving car companies are still very high. Eighteen months ago, Waymo was valued at nearly $200 billion. It recently was re-evaluated at $30 billion. It lost $170 billion in market cap in less than two years. Waymo recently raised $3 billion, its first outside investment round, reportedly saying outside investors will help it be more disciplined.