The problem with ugly self-driving cars

Self-driving cars are a hot topic nowadays. Everybody is in a new race for the next big hit on the market so they can take a piece of cake home. The technology of self-driving cars is great and everything related to the software and how it works, hands down, is the best so far humanity has achieved. But it is the looks & feels and the UI of those dashboards is what looks ancient to me or simply lazy designers. Have you seen the Waymo car? It's just bad.

Why self-driving cars look bad? Money and the desire to be first. It is the same story as with electric cars. Other companies have been first and boasted on how great they are to be the first one the market. But nobody will remember them. Everybody will remember Tesla as the first cool electric car. Why? Because it looks great, it feels great, and you actually are proud owning an electric car. It is not about who comes first, but who brings first a truly great product. Same story with iPhones, laptops and any other great product in the history of humanity.

Waymo, a company by Google, was the first company to introduce a truly self-driving car without a steering wheel. It is something that becomes the definition of a self-driving car and it is "not having a steering wheel". But what Waymo introduced to the public is the ugliest thing possible on the planet. No matter how boastful they are on being the first company to bring self-driving cars to the public and say that "Self-driving cars are here", it looks bad. You get into that car only if you are blind. Because it looks bad. Did I just say that again? Yes, it looks bad, it looks very, very, very bad. Funny thing is that they did their first official test drive with a blind person. Irony.

The future of self-driving cars is still to come. What we see right now on the market is the same as cavemen era when the fire was discovered and they started playing with it. Some good years will pass until we will see a good use of that fire. A great self-driving car will not only be "intuitive" in terms of UI but also feel great to own or rent one. Both exterior and interior will feel like it something new and not just a copycat of previous models on the market.

Who will bring such cars on the market? I believe that we will see a company similar to what Tesla did to electric cars. Or maybe it will be Tesla itself who will bring next true self-driving cars for the masses. Who knows.

What is wrong with current car companies? The car giants that are currently on the market have too much luggage and bureaucracy to bring something truly innovative and great. What self-driving car companies need is independent thinkers that are not affected by the board, investors or CEO's that know nothing about cars.

Eugen Esanu