At the Consumer Electronics Show annual showcase of technology in Las Vegas this year, something important was inadvertently highlighted. Inclement weather at CES 2018 caused several manufacturers and suppliers to cancel or significantly alter their autonomous vehicle showcases. Nissan, for example, discontinued showings of its new ProPilot technology in the 2019 Nissan LEAF electric car (demos of the LEAF otherwise continued). Other manufacturers embraced the chance to show some of their latest capabilities.
Decisions to cancel seemed based more on liability, both physical (“What if something goes wrong?”) and intangible (“If it doesn’t work, we lose face.”), than on likely limitations of the manufacturer’s technologies. Those pressing forward or even using the weather as a way to showcase capabilities were mostly smaller, less branded companies whose reputations to the public would suffer only short-term losses were things to go awry.