With Aurora’s help, the automaker is building a “double-digit number” of self-driving e-Golf electric cars, which they’re testing in the Bay Area this year. Jungwirth and his team moved this summer from Germany to Silicon Valley to expand the rollout on what he called a “need-to-know basis approach.”
“If the competition wants to disclose and show us where they are, it might even help us, to see for ourselves without having to disclose ourselves,” Jungwirth said.
Unlike companies such as Ford, which says it will have a fully autonomous vehicle in commercial operation by 2021, Aurora offers no hint of a set timeline. And it is not the only self-driving team pushing for more managed expectations. John Krafcik, chief of Waymo, the self-driving division of Google’s parent Alphabet that is experimenting with giving people rides in robo-vans around Phoenix, said in July that widely available self-driving cars will take “longer than you think.”
Cummings, the Duke director, said that go-slow approach might be the only option the industry has for producing a self-driving car that people actually trust. Overpromising, she said, “makes it harder when the technology is actually ready to go for us to say, ‘Honestly, seriously, we’re ready now. It’s safe.’”