Tesla’s CEO says we’re approaching a self-driving revolution
In terms of autonomous cars reaching the public, there are a few milestones to look forward to. The closest one is the emergence of the first self-driving cars on the roads. Laws are already in place, test vehicles have shown the technology to be ready, and at the end of this year, Tesla hopes to have their first self-driving cars on the roads, capable of navigating highways without any help from their drivers.
The next milestone then, might be the point when all new cars ship with self-driving capability. Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, predicts this will happen within 10 years. Musk visited the World Government Summit in Dubai today, where he held a 30 minute discussion about the future to an audience of government leaders.
The main topic of the conversation was artificial intelligence, which Musk believes will make a large impact on our lives in the coming decades. Self-driving cars are one practical application of advanced AI. While he sees advancements arriving very soon, the size of the auto industry means it will take some time before we truly see our roads populated en masse by autonomous vehicles:
“There are about 2 billion cars in the world and the total annual production capacity is about 100 million cars, which makes sense since the average life of a car before being totally scrapped is about 20-25 years,” he explained, “So the point for which we see autonomy appear will not be the point when we see a massive impact on people because it will take a lot of time to make enough autonomous vehicles to disrupt. That disruption will take place for about 20 years.”
He added that the transition will be an interesting one in many aspects. He believes the bulk of the change will occur within the next ten years, and as more autonomous vehicles are shipped, the value of those without self-driving capabilities will plummet. At the same time, the switch can’t be rushed because the demands for safety are so high.
Curiously, Musk also hinted that while the NVIDIA Drive PX2 computers shipped with all new Teslas may be enough to fully replace a driver’s input, the cars may need an upgrade (which would be easily achievable) to surpass human driving capabilities.