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Elon Musk: Hopefully the public won’t outlaw human-driven cars

March 18, 2015, 4:19 PM UTC
Photograph by Jerry Lampen — AFP/Getty Images

Tesla Motors calls the Model S a driver’s car. And it’s thousands of owners would agree.

So, imagine the social media ripple CEO Elon Musk started Tuesday when he imagined—out loud to a packed hall at Nvidia’s graphical processor unit conference in San Jose—that a day might come when we’d all just be passengers.

In the distant future, autonomous or self-driving vehicles will be so safe that people might outlaw driven cars because they’re too dangerous, Musk theorized during a question-and-answer session with Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang.

“You can’t have a person driving a two-ton death machine,” Musk said.

A few hours later, Musk took to Twitter to calm the masses.

To be clear, Tesla is strongly in favor of people being allowed to drive their cars and always will be. Hopefully, that is obvious.


But, then again, you can never be too sure. A few minutes later, Musk circled back to the comments he made at the GPU conference.

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And while Musk described autonomous vehicles as a “solved problem,” the days of sitting passively in a car as it negotiates the daily commute from neighborhood streets to freeway and eventually a parking garage are still years away.

As Musk put it during the q&a session, there will be “legacy cars on the road for some time.”

Musk’s comments don’t seem so far-fetched walking around the exhibit hall of Nvidia’s GPU conference, where automakers such as Audi are showing off their latest self-driving features.

Two new Nvidia products could help accelerate the shift to autonomous vehicles. The Titan X, the company’s new flagship for GeForce gaming GPU that was unveiled Tuesday, is uniquely suited for training deep learning networks, according to Nvidia. The company also announced adjoining software, called the DIGITS Deep Learning GPU Training System, to help users build deep neural networks to train computers to teach themselves how to classify and recognize objects.

Nvidia also announced that its self-driving car platform called DrivePX, which was first unveiled at CES in January, will be available in May for $10,000. The DrivePX is designed to bring the power of deep neural networks into real-world cars. Audi has publicly said it will use the DrivePX.