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relates to Even After $100 Billion, Self-Driving Cars Are Going Nowhere
Illustration: Scott Gelber for Bloomberg Businessweek
The Big Take

Even After $100 Billion, Self-Driving Cars Are Going Nowhere

They were supposed to be the future. But prominent detractors—including Anthony Levandowski, who pioneered the industry—are getting louder as the losses get bigger.

The first car woke Jennifer King at 2 a.m. with a loud, high‑pitched hum. “It sounded like a hovercraft,” she says, and that wasn’t the weird part. King lives on a dead-end street at the edge of the Presidio, a 1,500-acre park in San Francisco where through traffic isn’t a thing. Outside she saw a white Jaguar SUV backing out of her driveway. It had what looked like a giant fan on its roof—a laser sensor—and bore the logo of Google’s driverless car division, Waymo.

She was observing what looked like a glitch in the self-driving software: The car seemed to be using her property to execute a three-point turn. This would’ve been no biggie, she says, if it had happened once. But dozens of Google cars began doing the exact thing, many times, every single day.