Atrios is unimpressed with self-driving delivery vehicles:
Like Segways, I think the usefulness of all of these self-driving ideas (even if they work!) is much more limited than people think….Self-driving vehicles have a “last 200 feet” problem, and delivery vehicles have a “last 20 feet” problem. Whether pizzas or groceries, if it doesn’t come right to my door it’s a lot less appealing.
FWIW, I agree—although it’s always possible that the Silicon Valley geniuses behind this have clever solutions that I haven’t thought of. Ditto for self-driving taxis and self-driving buses.
But forget all that. I think that the biggest market for self-driving cars by far will be—brace yourselves—ordinary people who like the idea of not having to drive their cars. That’s it. You tell your car where to go, and then spend the trip chattering on the phone or watching TV or posting nasty tweets or reading Eschaton. Lots of people claim that they actually like driving cars, but most of them are either lying or delusional. Even if you drive a Ferrari—in fact, especially if you drive a Ferrari—it’s just no fun driving on jammed freeways or packed city streets or long stretches of interstate highway. We’d all rather be doing other things.
So that’s it. Forget all the weird little applications that startup companies are pitching in order to sound cool. The real market is the 200 million ordinary folks who would just as soon spend their commuting time amusing themselves instead of cursing at traffic.