Whether taking a car for a spin on a Sunday or focusing on getting from A to B after a stressful day, driving can be fun and therapeutic.
But Tesla CEO Elon Musk believes humans could be banned from driving in years to come and all cars will, instead, be controlled by robots.
The entrepreneur claims that computers will one day do a much better job of driving and that humans are simply ‘too dangerous’ behind the wheel.
‘It would be like an elevator. They used to have elevator operators, and then we developed some simple circuitry to have elevators just automatically come to the floor that you’re at … the car is going to be just like that,’ he told NVidia’s CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang at the company’s annual developers conference.
Musk said that the obvious answer to keeping humans safe on the road is to ban us from driving, because ‘it’s too dangerous…you can’t have a two-ton death machine,’ The Verge reported.
Instead of taking the wheel, drivers and passengers could read a book or watch a film while their cars tackle the roads for them.
However, Musk said that such a vision could take over 20 years to become a reality.
Tesla is among many firms that have added self-driving features to its cars and joins the likes of BMW, Volvo and Google, which are developing cars that could drive themselves completely.
Tesla’s Model S features an ‘autopilot’ mode, which uses sensors to stop drivers drifting accidentally between motorway lanes, as well as moderate speed and brake when necessary.
Last October, Musk said the Palo Alto-based firm is working on a model that will be 90 per cent in control.
He noted that driving conditions between 15 and 50mph are the most challenging because this is when most unexpected events occur, such as children running out into a road, cyclists swerving or road closures.
Visual computing company, NVidia, which is based in Santa Clara, California, has developed a technology called Drive, which could advance autonomous systems, beacuse it can identify objects including people and road signs using sensors and up to a dozen cameras on a car.
It’s releasing a $10,000 (£6,815) developers kit so people can hone the technology for car manufacturers.
As well as developments in on-board sensors and computers, Musk said security concerns must be addressed before fully-functioning autonomous vehicles become a reality on roads.
Tesla is working on a way to stop people hacking into its cars and believes that frequent software updates will help.
Musk teased that Tesla would ‘end range anxiety’ in a tweet, which could mean that a software update could increase the car’s mileage.
Despite a recent survey by eBay Motors revealing that 84 per cent of Americans want to continue driving their cars and not rely on autonomous technology, many companies are pushing ahead with self-driving projects.
For example, Uber recently said it would be partnering with roboticists at Carnegie Mellon University and is said to have opened a research facility in Pittsburgh with the intention of creating a self-driving car.
Such a move would see it going head-to-head with Google’s efforts, among others’.
Days ago, a nondescript garage in Sunnyvale, California, was pinpointed as being where Apple is believed to be building its self-driving ‘Titan’ cars.
While it may be early days, an industry expert said that Apple could have an electric car ready to go on sale by 2020, putting it in direct competition with rivals Tesla Motors and General Motors.
In an interview last year, Apple board member Mickey Drexler said that before his death in 2011 Steve Jobs had considered building a car.
He told Paul Goldberger: ‘Steve Jobs was gonna design an iCar. I think cars have an extraordinary opportunity for cool design.’
Volvo is the latest European manufacturer to announce big developments in self-driving technologies.
It said last month that it will put 100 of its autonomous vehicles on roads as soon as 2017 and members of the public will be able to try its Drive Me system, which the company claims can cope with ‘even the most complicated scenarios’.
The trial is set to take place on selected roads in Gothenburg, Sweden and is a collaboration between the auto manufacturer, transport authorities and critically, legislators.
Volvo’s Drive Me cars rely on 28 cameras, sensors and lasers as well as software rules to drive itself on busy roads.
Dr Mertens of Volvo said: ‘Autonomous driving will fundamentally change the way we look at driving. In the future, you will be able to choose between autonomous and active driving.
‘This transforms everyday commuting from lost time to quality time, opening up new opportunities for work and pleasure.’
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