"It is to counter Google's skewed data that make it look like autonomous cars are just around the corner."
Google has never said that. And this guy doesn't have all the data, nor does he know whats in development.
"why come out with a vehicle that has no steering wheel if it is not viable for another 5-10 years (by your estimate)?"
The same reason worlds fair showed tech that will be coming out in 5-10 years. Its' fun, it's cool. It also show they are thinking long term and not quarterly. It also shows a company spending money on RnD.
I consider all of that a good thing.
"Do you ever see a Google press release mention any of these limitations?"
" All you hear from Google is a rising tally of miles driven and the fact that there have been no accidents. "
Which is pretty important.
"The fact that the miles are driven on carefully selected, heavily scanned roads under optimal conditions never seems to make it into the reports."
That is the smart way to start, but they are moving past that.
" Driving down the same roads thousands of times is not progress."
Of course it is. Same roads, different traffic. The same rods can have 10's of thousands of changing variables at any given time.
The team members are using them. A team member took one from Google campus to Tahoe on a trip.
Do you lay awake at night just trying to think of ways to hate cool new things?