Elon Musk predicts the end of humans behind the wheel

Self-driving cars will become the norm in the next twenty years, leading to a ban on human drivers, according to Tesla founder Elon Musk.

Speaking at the Nvidia GPU Technology Conference in San Jose, California, Musk said it would take two decades to replace the two billion cars currently on the road with self-driving vehicles.

The UK has already given the green light for such vehicles to be tested on roads, but when they're finally adopted, autonomous cars would spell the end of a person getting behind the wheel, the tech entrepreneur claimed.

"In the distant future, I think people may outlaw driving cars because it's too dangerous," Musk said, as quoted by The Verge. "You can't have a person driving a two-ton death machine."

Musk said that Tesla was keen to develop its electric cars to drive themselves, with the car maker already having unveiled an autopilot mode for its Model S vehicles.

The mode allows cars to change lanes and park themselves, and Musk revealed plans are underway to have a car that was "90 per cent capable of autopilot."

He added that self-driving technology was largely a "solved problem" and it was just a matter of time before autonomous cars on the road would be a reality for many.

But Musk contended that the hardest part for autonomous cars was what happens when driving between 15 and 50 miles an hour on non-motorway roads.

"That's where you get a lot of unexpected things," he said, adding that road closures, manhole covers, children and bicyclists are things that robots have trouble dealing with.

Despite recently pronouncing AI as the greatest existential threat to humanity, Musk didn't appear too troubled by the artificial intelligence used by such cars to traverse roads.

"I don't think we have to worry about autonomous cars, because that's sort of like a narrow form of AI," he claimed.

One further problem for self-driving cars is the prospect of hackers trying to take control of such vehicles.

Tesla has invested in security to prevent such attacks.

Image credit: IT Pro's sister title Carbuyer

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.