Elon Musk: In the future, human-driven cars may be illegal
SAN JOSE, Calif. — The days of humans driving their own cars are numbered, according to Elon Musk.
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 distant future,” he said, “They may outlaw driven cars because they’re too dangerous.”
This future is not actually as far off as you might think, Musk said, adding 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,”
“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 Telsa 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.
The event comes just days after Musk teased an upcoming announcement that would ends Tesla owners’ “range anxiety.” The update, slated for Thursday, will come in the form of a new software update to Tesla owners, but Musk declined to provide further details Tuesday.
UPDATE, Wednesday, March 18, 2015: Musk later clarified his comments on Twitter, after Tuesday’s event.