This week’s New Yorker features a scathing article on Google’s self-driving car program, detailing the stories of nightmarish mismanagement and at least one crash involving self-driving cars that went mostly unreported. We want to shine more light on what happens behind closed doors in our race to get self-driving cars on the road, and the best people to share what’s really going on are the everyday engineers, programmers, mechanics and drivers involved in these programs.
The companies testing these new technologies on public roads, like Tesla, Uber, Apple, GM’s Cruise, and Google and Waymo, go to extreme lengths to keep the work a secret—including massive lawsuits over allegedly stolen trade secrets that turn out to seemingly be mostly nothing.
But sometimes the secrecy goes too far, or the smaller incidents go unreported, like the New Yorker’s story which claims a Google engineer took a self-driving car off-course, leading to another motorist crashing into a highway median—an incident that was never reported and later allegedly used internally within Google’s program as an example of real-world situations to learn from.
It’s unclear how unorganized and chaotic these projects are behind closed doors, but reports about Uber and Google’s company culture suggests the management responsible for these self-driving programs often leads to arguments, setbacks, firings and sometimes even crashes.
We want to hear these stories, and we can only hear it from the people who have worked there.
We can navigate this new culture of self-driving cars together.