Tesla CEO Elon Musk believes eventually it will be illegal to own a car that humans can drive. As strange as it may seem, he's probably right.
Musk's explanation was simple: computers will do a better job than us, to the point where humans are actually more of a liability on roadways.
"I don't think we have to worry about autonomous cars, because it's sort of like a narrow form of AI," Musk told said to Nvidia co-founder and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang during the technology company's annual developers conference on Tuesday. "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."
Okay sounds reasonable, but what happens when that day comes? Musk said that the obvious choice is to ban driving cars.
"It's too dangerous," Musk said. "You can't have a person driving a two-ton death machine."
This won't be an over-night change however, Musk said it would be similar to the rise of hybrids and EVs.
"I think it is important to appreciate the size of the automotive industrial base," Musk said. "There's 2 billion of them." Moving everything to autonomous vehicles would take 20 years, he added, noting that the sheer capacity of car and truck production is limited to about 100 million new vehicles a year.
Tesla is one of the many companies that have already added some self-driving features to its cars, and is also working on technology that will let vehicles drive itself completely.
The company's Model S "Autopilot" mode lets vehicles change speed, stay in the correct lane and brake by using on-board sensors. The next step would be to combine that technology with highway driving and navigation features.
Highway speeds aren't an issue to Musk however, it's medium speeds that poise a challenge.
"Highway cruise is easy, low speed is easy, it's medium that's hard. Being able to recognize what you're seeing that suburban environment in that 10 mph to 50 mph zone is the challenging portion."