As humans, we are very imperfect creatures. As much as we like to think we are the end all, be all inside earth’s atmosphere, the fact is that most of our problems are our very own fault. Such is the case with automotive accidents, as well. We are just not made to put 100% focus on the road. We get distracted and often forget to do things the right way. Most of these mistakes happen to be small, but others are fatal.
With this in mind, and considering the advances in autonomous vehicles – would you say a future without drivers is imminent? Tesla CEO Elon Musk took the stage at NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference in San Jose, CA, today. He went into detail about the company’s present and future plans, but what really caught our ear was that he believes human-driven cars will eventually be outlawed.
Not many of us have considered this, but there is a lot of truth to Musk’s words. Laws and people’s fear of the unknown are currently keeping this technology on lock down, but there is enough proof corroborating the fact that robots are better at driving than human cars.
Once we get past the enigma that currently surrounds self-driving cars, the obvious move would be to outlaw drivers, as humans would be looked at as a liability.
“It would be like an elevator. They used to have elevator operators, and we developed some simple circuitry for elevators just automatically to come to the floor you’re at… the car is going to be just like that.” – Elon Musk
“It’s too dangerous. You can’t have a person driving a two-ton death machine.” -Elon Musk
Needless to say, this would be a very slow process. People have to get used to the idea of a computer driving them places, laws have to adapt and then we would have to move out the entire 2 billion vehicles currently in the streets. This is a process Elon mentions would take about 20 years.
Tesla’s role in this automotive revolution
Elon Musk is currently seen as one of the most influential personalities in tech. He has helped revolutionize electric vehicles and is leading the automotive market. But that is not where he wants to stop. His goal is to also turn Tesla into a leader in autonomous vehicles, something they have already started working on and we can see in their Autopilot feature.
Tesla’s current technology is capable of taking over drivers 90% of the time. This project currently focuses on highway driving, which consists of controlling speed, breaks and vehicle positioning within lanes. This is all controlled by a complex set of sensors that pretty much give the vehicle senses.
So, what about the other 10%? Elon Musk says the real challenge is figuring out the issues of driving between 15 and 50 mph. This is where other factors come into play, such as road closures, people, bikers and more. And, of course, this is where NVIDIA comes into play.
NVIDIA has announced a new solution called Drive. This automated system can identify people, signs and a plethora of other objects. Elon is also taking security into account. It could, theoretically, be possible to hack an autonomous vehicle, which would not be good news for the driver and those surrounding him. More details about this will come later, but he states frequent software updates could help. As well as keeping a complete mechanism that would allow the driver to take over at any moment (at least for the near future).
Imagine what outlawing drivers could mean!
Maybe my vision of a future with self-driving cars is a bit far fetched, but I think I may not be too wrong. Imagine a distant future in which drivers simply don’t exist!
Here’s what I picture. Imagine going to your favorite bar and simply being dropped off at the entrance. The car then goes and parks itself. Take care of business, maybe have one too many drinks and call your car so you can head back home. That’s right! There would be no such thing as drunk driving. You could even take a nap, drink some water and sober up a bit on the way back to bed. I would probably just hop into the trunk and take a nap!
Maybe you want to take care of some emails on the way to work or catch up on sleeping; it would not be a problem. Now, here’s when stuff gets real good. What if you are throwing a party and one of your friends has no rides, yet you gotta stay home and take care of preparations? Pull out your phone and send your car over to your friend’s place. You could confirm the right person is getting in the vehicle via live feed and then let the car head right back to your garage.
How about picking up your teenage kids from high school? It sure would be an amazing way to make sure they head straight back home. The possibilities are endless, guys. I know it comes with its downsides and many of you will be terrified by the idea, but I agree with Elon Musk. Outlawing human drivers will be safer, more convenient and will open doors we didn’t even know existed.