Elon Musk: Cars are dangerous because humans drive them

March 18, 2015, 4:22 PM UTC
Elon Musk
Tesla CEO Elon Musk walks past the Tesla Model S after a news conference at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., Friday, June 22, 2012. The first Model S sedan car will be rolling off the assembly line on Friday. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
Photograph by Paul Sakuma — AP

When people talk about the advantages of robots and automation, they often use the term “human error.”

And that’s just the thing that Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk believes driverless cars will eradicate. Speaking at NVidia’s annual developer gathering (the 2015 GPU Technology Conference), the controversial entrepreneur put forth some ideas about automated cars, an area in which he has huge faith.

Soon enough, driverless technology will be so far along that we’ll already “take autonomous cars for granted,” Musk said, in a conversation with NVidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang. “I almost view it as a solved problem. We know what to do, and we’ll be there in a few years… You’ll be able to tell your car, ‘Take me home, go here, go there,’ anything.”

Then came Musk’s boldest claim. “In the distant future,” Musk went on, “people may outlaw driving cars because it’s too dangerous. You can’t have a person driving a two-ton death machine.”

Some may find nothing too shocking about Musk’s comments. Indeed, human drivers cause car accidents all the time. (More than 3,000 U.S. teens, for example, are killed each year in car accidents caused by texting while driving.) But the statements raised enough eyebrows to prompt Musk to walk his comments back a little bit on Twitter (TWTR) the same day.

“To be clear, Tesla is strongly in favor of people being allowed to drive their cars and always will be,” he tweeted. “Hopefully, that is obvious.” Then, in a second tweet: “However, when self-driving cars become safer than human-driven cars, the public may outlaw the latter. Hopefully not.”
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