Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, says that autonomous vehicles will take greater control over highway traffic in the next few years but, once they are fully capable, from garage to destination, they could even outmode human drivers altogether.
This is a constant sticking point between autonomous vehicle proponents and opponents, and we’ve had a couple of interesting discussions here on The Green Optimistic regarding how they should operate. There’s really two directions that the technology can go, basically boiling down to “drive like a human” or “drive like a machine,” and they’ve both got their advantages and disadvantages. One advantage to the drive-like-a-human scheme is that it can readily interact with human drivers, who dominate the roads right now. The problem is that even the world’s most-powerful supercomputers cannot replicate human thinking.
On the other hand, given the drive-like-a-machine scheme, things like traffic congestion, accidents, falling asleep at the wheel, and drunk driving would all become a thing of the past. The advantages over human driving style is obvious.
Looking at death statistics in the United States in the last year alone, in spite of countless safety upgrades and electronic nannies, traffic accidents still accounted for a whopping 34,000 premature deaths. The solution, of course, is to get rid of human drivers altogether.
Elon Musk suggested as much in a Tweet, where he said “However, when self-driving cars become safer than human-driven cars, the public may outlaw the latter. Hopefully not.” At an nVidia conference, he is quoted as saying “In the distant future, I think people may outlaw driving cars because it’s too dangerous.
You can’t have a person driving a two-ton death machine,” at least not if autonomous vehicles can do the same thing without getting into accidents, wasting fuel, and killing anyone. Will we have to give up the pleasure of driving for a safer and cleaner future?