One Day It Will be Illegal to Drive Cars, Reckons Elon Musk

By Gerald Lynch on at

Driverless cars are not only the future of car transport, reckons Tesla CEO Elon Musk, they're the only future of cars.

Such is his faith in the autonomous that Musk believes it will one day be outlawed to have a human driver behind the wheel.

"It's too dangerous," Musk told NVidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang at the company's annual developers conference.

"You can't have a person driving a two-tonne death machine.

"It would be like an elevator. They used to have elevator operators, and then we developed some simple circuitry to have elevators just automatically come to the floor that you're at ... the car is going to be just like that."

Though Musk's AI-dominated road claims seem a little outlandish, his prediction as to when such a future would come to pass seems a bit more reasonable. With the automotive industry capable of churning out around 100 million vehicles a year, and around 2 billion cars and trucks on the world's roads currently, Musk estimates it'll be at least 20 years before we all have to hand in our driver's licenses.

Musk's Tesla aim is to in time have his electric car fleet be completely autonomous. The company already has a working 'autopilot' mode in its Model S that can monitor speed limits, braking needs and your ability to stay within lane boundaries, and is working on a model that will be "90 per cent capable of autopilot", due to be unveiled this year.

The main issue sits in the 15 to 50mph speed range, where unexpected obstacles like potholes or street-crossing children still need a human to react to. That's where Nvidia comes in with its 'Drive' system. Working alongside a new digital dashboard called the Drive PX, the dual Tegra X1-powered system can process imagery from a dozen cameras in real time, letting autonomous cars have a greater understanding of what's going on around them. A $10,000 developers kit will launch in May. If Clarkson's struggling to keep his job now, just wait twenty years and see how he's getting on... [Nvidia - Ustream]