The promise of self-driving cars is not only one of increased comfort and more free time, but much more importantly, that of safer roads. And that promise seems to quickly be turning into reality, according to Tesla founder, Elon Musk.
Tesla, which has taken the world by storm with pre-orders for its latest electric vehicle, has also been very interested in self-driving technology. In fact, the company recently launched a software update to its existing Tesla cars that allowed them to be autonomous in some select situations. This has led to safer driving, by a wide margin, according to Musk.
Talking to the Minister of Transport and Communications, on a recent trip to Norway, Elon Musk espoused the benefits of self-driving cars, even in their current limited form. He said:
The probability of having an accident is 50% lower if you have Autopilot on. Even with our first version. So we can see basically what’s the average number of kilometers to an accident – accident defined by airbag deployment. Even with this early version, it’s almost twice as good as a person.
If these numbers prove to be real and not just hyperbole, they may well help to move the market towards wider and swifter adoption of self-driving cars. Insurance industries and regulatory bodies, not to mention average citizens, may see the major benefits of self-driving cars and push society in that direction. To that end Musk continued:
I think it’s going to be important in term of satisfying regulators and the public to show statistically with a large amount of data – with billions of kilometers of driving – to say that the safety level is definitively better, by a meaningful margin, if it’s autonomous versus non-autonomous.
Another major player in self-driving cars, Google/Alphabet, has only driven a couple of million miles in its autonomous vehicles, so the “billions” mentioned by Musk will still take some time. That being said, there’s speculation that the new Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle will also be the first widely available self-driving car, so autonomous vehicles may quickly become a staple of our society.