Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s CEO Elon Musk says fully autonomous vehicles are just years away, and that they’ll be at least ten times safer than vehicles driven by humans. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Musk said he expects the vehicles to be available within five to six years, though he admitted that lagging regulations may set their usage back by several more years once the technology is ready.
Musk’s Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is actively working on their autonomous technology, a partial, semi-autonomous version of which will be implemented in the Model 3 which is expected to go on sale in 2017 for $35,000. Musk said the greatest challenge at this point for Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) with their autonomous technology is to work out the system’s “machine vision”, essentially its capability to instantly see and recognize objects, even ones only partially visible, and determine the appropriate course of action.
Some would likely argue with Musk’s notion that a Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) autonomous vehicle would be that much safer than a good human driver. The statement seems to be predicated more on the idea that the roads would be largely taken over by autonomous vehicles, collectively increasing the overall safety, rather than an autonomous vehicle being that much safer than a good driver in and of itself. An autonomous car could theoretically do nothing to avoid an accident caused by human error from the other vehicle, just as a good driver in many cases can do nothing to avoid such accidents.
While it is certainly true that even the best driver could make mistakes, until there’s an autonomous system that is 100% faultless, it’s a bit of a lopsided and unfair argument pitting the inherent fallibility of humanity against a perfect system resting on a pedestal, which doesn’t even actually exist, and may never exist.
That said, it’s undeniable that in a world where only autonomous vehicles roam the roads, the streets will undoubtedly be a lot more orderly and safer for everyone inside and outside of the vehicles. And that’s a vision that may be realized by Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) before the decade is out of gas (or battery charge).
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