Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk Says Future of Autonomous Cars is Nigh

When you’re preparing to launch a computing platform for self-driving cars, it helps to bring one of the leading voices in automotive innovation along for the ride.

That’s just what NVIDIA CEO and co-founder Jen-Hsun Huang did in his opening keynote at the 2015 GPU Technology Conference. Just moments after announcing NVIDIA’s DRIVE PX self-driving car computer, he sat down for a quick fireside chat with Musk, who, as usual, put the pedal to the metal.

“We’ll take autonomous cars for granted in quite a short time,” Musk told a crowd of some 4,000 at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center. “I almost view it as a solved problem. We know what to do, and we’ll be there in a few years.”

Musk—who also is co-founder and CEO of Space X, has floated an idea for an ambitious system of pod-like transports, and recently compared the development of artificial intelligence to “summoning the demon”—made it clear that NVIDIA’s advances in GPU technology will play a key role.

“What NVIDIA is doing with Tegra is really interesting and really important for self-driving in the future,” said Musk.

muskonstageweb
Tesla CEO Elon Musk shared some bold views about the future of automobiles during a chat with NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang.

Not that Musk thinks autonomous cars will come easily. It’s a long road to get from developing the capabilities to implementing them. For example, he predicts that regulators will be loathe to allow self-driving vehicles until they’re presented two or three years of compelling evidence about their safety in comparison to driver-controlled vehicles.

Musk also cautioned that we’ll eventually will have to embrace a seismic change in our relationship with cars as regulators struggle with how to transition from driver-controlled vehicles to those controlled by computers.

Bottom line: at some point, people may not be trusted behind the wheel anymore.

“In the distant future, (legislators} may outlaw driven cars because they’re too dangerous,” he said.

Tesla comes equipped with two Tegra processors to power its big screens.
Tesla comes equipped with two Tegra processors to power its screens.

He also noted that while getting autonomous cars to cooperate at 5-10 MPH is relatively simple, doing so at speeds between 10 and 50 MPH in urban and suburban settings—with pedestrians, cross-traffic and a host of other obstacles and distractions—will prove to be the really hard part of the work. Beyond that, he said, “Once you get above 50 MPH in a freeway environment, it gets easy again.”

That’s not all. Musk said that the transition to autonomous cars, even once they’re ready for prime time, isn’t going to happen overnight. He noted that there are 2 billion cars on roads today, and that the auto industry is cranking out another 100 million a year. At that rate, it would take 20 years to replace that fleet if autonomous cars were available tomorrow.

“It’s not going to all transition immediately,” Musk said. “It’ll take quite a while.”

And then there’s the matter of security. When Huang asked him for his outlook on that, Musk said the threat of hackers taking over cars becomes more significant only if the steering wheel and brake pedal disappear. Until then, drivers can override any potential problems with their hands and feet.

Over the air updates help keep Tesla's Model S fresh long after it's left the factory.
NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang told Musk he’s one of the many Tesla Model S drivers who look forward to the over-the-air updates that keep Tesla’s cars fresh long after they’ve left the factory.

But all these concerns have done nothing to dampen Musk’s view of self-driving cars as a near-future inevitability.

“I think it’s going to become normal, like an elevator,” he said. “There used to be elevator operators and then we came up with circuitry so the elevator knew to come to your floor. Cars will be like that.”

And few companies are better positioned to lead the charge than Tesla. The company’s ground-breaking high-performance electric cars are already known for innovations such as touch screens, digital dashboards and a more recent autopilot feature that helps the cars take control on the highway, when parking, and even to avoid potential accidents.

 

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  • TheJokker

    Reminds me of the Rush song: Red Bachetta.

    Of course the song is a glorification of Individuality and freedom in the face of evil fascism…

  • ( )

    So who pays when you self driving car causes an accident and kills folks? nVidia? Who pays for the insurance? nVidia?

    What happens when the fuse blows? Or there is an electrical fault and the board goes dead?

    If Windows is the O/S the blue screen of death kind of takes on a new meaning.

    Self driving cars will never happen.

    It will never work in massive traffic.

  • ILikeFish

    The same person who pays now- your insurance company.

    And it doesn’t have to be perfect- it just has to save the insurance company a few $.

    Once that happens, the rest is automatic- the systems get better and better, funded by the companies and people who stand to benefit from improved vehicle safety. And there are a lot of them.

  • PokeImon

    100% is impossible in anything. Right now with humans driving its much less then 100% perfect but with a self driving car it would be closer to 100% then compared to human driving.
    Example: so if humans are 92% good at driving cars and computers are 97% good. Then self driving cars are statistically safer then human driven cars. Thus encourages the move towards self driving.

  • Alexander Gee

    If you look into the laws behind this the human supervisor is completely liable for the action of the vehicle. It’s simple because it doesn’t change the way liability currently works.

  • kontis

    You talk like you are living in a world where automated devices capable of causing accidents or killing people do not exist. Surprise, surprise, there are already tons of them and applicable laws already exist. Musk’s elevator example is also one of them.

  • ( )

    That’s right 100% is impossible. How much do the Airlines pay out to crash victims?
    The manufacturer will be responsible for ALL motor vehicle accidents.
    And there will be accidents.

  • ( )

    An elevator goes up and down and it too fails at times. But when it fails a mechanical locking system independant of the controls lock the elevator to prevent it from falling.
    An elevtor is also NOT autonomous.
    An automobile as smart as an elevator turns on the radio when you get in the car.

  • ( )

    There is NO LAW behind this as autonomous drone operation is whether airborne or ground is severely restricted.

  • ( )

    If the nVidia driving platform makes a stupid decision and gets folks killed then nVidai will be liable.

  • ( )

    In 2000 Firestone recalled 6.5 MILLION tires as they were faulty. In fact Firestone very nearly went out of business. ANd they got the snot sued out of them for that liability.
    Making tires is not a difficult thing to do especially when you have been building them for over 80 years or so.

    Self drving cars will never happen as before they can be certified there will need to be a new government agency just to provide oversight.
    Driverless cars are a solution without a problem.
    Autonomous cars will kill more people than are being killed now. In fact self driving cars will never be sold for the same reason that cars today can not be monitored with GPS. Violation og constitutional rights.
    There is no proof that self driving cars will be safer. All this is is mental masturbation.

  • Frak

    self parking OK but self driving. It’s scarred me:

    http://teknolojituru.com/volkswagen-yakinda-sizinle-birlikte-park-edecek/

  • Brave new world 2

    Just where we were waiting for since the beginning of times : the brave new world of total central government control of all living things on earth, starting with governement controlled and directed cars followed with complete central control and direction of every movement of every person on earth. The hugely cheerfull future of human kind starting now thanks to Elon Musk.

  • Brave new world 2

    New future of mankind after the Elon Musk car : Elon Musk humans! Scientific research is already going full speed in his direction : Scientists manage to control flight of ‘cyborg beetles’ for the first time. The Independent, Monday 23 March 2015. Just a few years and Elon Musk is going to control all your body movements by radio along with all his cars. Cheer your future, it will be really fantastic and completely behind your dreams.

  • Brave new world 2

    Finally Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World being realised thanks to Elon Musk. Humankind should be really extremely grateful for huge accomplishments like this being finally able to be realised in practice. First brave new world step : centrally controlled and directed cars so we can finally get rid of all traffic accidents caused by low erratic human instincts. Second brave new world step : centrally controlled and directed ‘cyborg humans’ so we can not only get rid of all trafic accidents but all of erratic human behavior and crime together. Why bother with controlling crime and erratic behavior after the fact when it will be perfectly possible the Elon Musk way to preemptively prevent all crime and unwanted deviating behavior in the first place. We should all be thankfull to Elon Musk for setting human standards of live to this extremely brave new highs.

  • blackandwhiteohana

    Airplanes are not 100% perfect.
    I’m sure you’ve flown…
    STFU.

  • Guest

    If airlines had a 3% crash rate then there would be NO airline industry.
    There would be hundreds of crashes every day.
    Right now the commercial airline fatality rate is about 4/1,000,000 flight miles.
    Civil avaition is about 3 times higher.
    But that does not even begin to approach .001% which is as statistically close to perfect as you can get.
    Even on autopilot the seat must have a pilot in it.

  • ( )

    If airlines had a 3% crash rate then there would be NO airline industry.
    There w
    If airlines had a 3% crash rate then there would be NO airline industry.
    There would be hundreds of crashes every day.
    Right now the commercial airline fatality rate is about 4/1,000,000 flight miles.
    Civil avaition is about 3 times higher.
    But that does not even begin to approach .001% which is as statistically close to perfect as you can get.
    Even on autopilot the seat must have a pilot in it.
    ould be hundreds of crashes every day.
    Right now the commercial airline fatality rate is about 4/1,000,000 flight miles.
    Civil avaition is about 3 times higher.
    But that does not even begin to approach .001% which is as statistically close to perfect as you can get.
    Even on autopilot the seat must have a pilot in it.

  • ( )

    There are no laws.

  • Laughing Man

    well with new computer technology that have been discovered like the memristor and of course the gpu tech and phase changine materials which will replace silicon because you can fit more PCMs in one cpu than you can silicon thus making computers 1000x faster.

  • Kutulue

    WOW Alexander. You really should read your text before you post it. Your post is a garbled mess.