Elon Musk says that it’s only a matter of time before self-driving cars are commonplace, imagining a world where manual driving would be outlawed as it could be considered too dangerous.
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk sees the transition to self-driving cars as inevitable. The reason, he said, is advances in sensor and software technology will eventually make cars’ onboard computers safer and better drivers than humans wielding “two-ton death machines.” The Tesla CEO shared his thoughts on the future of self-driving vehicles during the keynote presentation at NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference in San Jose, where he appeared onstage with NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang.
In the future human-driven cars will be outlawed because they’ll be too dangerous
“In the distant future,” he said, “They may outlaw driven cars because they’re too dangerous.” Musk said that even if all new cars were autonomous starting tomorrow, it would still take 15 to 20 years for all cars to be self-driving due to the sheer number of cars that are currently on the road. The same goes for electric vehicles, he said. “If all cars were suddenly electric, it’ll still take 20 years to replace the fleet.”
Musk added that he considers autonomous vehicles to be a “solved problem” and that the larger issue is making the software and hardware reliable enough to conform to safety standards that regulators will expect. He predicted regulators won’t come on board until at least two to three years after self-driving cars become safer than human-driven ones.
“Autonomy is about what level of reliability and safety do you want,” Musk said. Part of that safety is ensuring the security of self-driving cars. While something like an onboard infotainment system may be hackable, Musk said it’s important that elements like the steering wheel and braking system are secured separately and have controls that allows drivers to take control if necessary.
Tesla, known now for its electric vehicles, will be the leader in the future self-driving car industry, the CEO said. Tesla is not the only company hoping to dominate the self-driving car industry. The Silicon Valley-based startup will also face competition from Google and possibly Apple while legacy car-makers like Audi and BMW are also working on autonomous vehicles.
Musk told Huang he believes NVIDIA’s work will be a “big enabler” for Tesla’s efforts. Huang revealed more details about Drive PX, the company’s developer platform for self-driving cars first revealed in January. Drive PX will be available to “automakers, Tier 1 automotive suppliers and research institutions” in May for $10,000.