Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk at Tesla Store opening in Westfield Mall, London, Oct 2013Enlarge Photo
Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] CEO Elon Musk has come out and stated what many opponents of autonomous cars may be secretly fearing: driving becoming outlawed. Musk made the comments at a conference held by tech company Nvidia on Tuesday.
“In the distant future, I think people may outlaw driving cars because it’s too dangerous,” Musk said at the conference. “You can’t have a person driving a two-ton death machine.”
Such comments make Musk, who at one point owned a McLaren F1 and has consistently strived to make his company’s Model S electric sedan a more thrilling drive, sound like he favors taking control away from the general public, though comments he made on Twitter after the conference suggest this is not the case.
“To be clear, Tesla is strongly in favor of people being allowed to drive their cars and always will be,” he said on Twitter. “Hopefully, that is obvious.”
The strongest argument for autonomous cars is their safety—research has shown that human error is the main cause of crashes. By taking control away from the driver, driving could be made safer, or so the proponents of the technology claim. Those proponents include governments, safety groups and even some automakers, which are committed to accident-free driving.
Tesla has added some semi-autonomous features to its Model S. Last fall, the Californian firm announced an "Autopilot" feature with some basic functions. Eventually, the Autopilot will be upgraded to give the Model S self-driving capability on the highway from on-ramp to off-ramp, though there’s been no mention of a timeframe for this.