Elon Musk: Tesla Will Be Leader in Self-Driving Cars

Courtesy of Nvidia
From left: Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang and Tesla's Elon Musk.

“We’ll take autonomous cars for granted," predicts the Tesla Motors CEO.

Envisioning a future in which self-driving cars will be ubiquitous, safe and hacker-proof, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk declared that “doing self-driving is easier than people think” and that autonomous cars would become commonplace “in a very short period of time.”

In a discussion Tuesday with Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang at the 2015 GPU Technology Conference, Musk declared with characteristic bravado that Tesla already is the leader in electric cars and also will be the leader in autonomous vehicles. “We’re going to put a lot of car into autonomous driving,” Musk told Huang during a packed keynote presentation at the San Jose Convention Center.

Musk added that the autonomous car is “a solved problem” and that the autopilot technology in place in current-production Teslas is adequate for the cars to drive themselves, just not yet at an acceptable margin of safety.

Musk also said Tesla is developing countermeasures to repel malicious remote attacks on the software that controls a car's self-driving functions.

Musk said that while current autonomous technology — which relies on radar, lasers and stereoscopic cameras — easily can pilot a car on limited-access freeways and at low speeds, it has difficulty parsing chaotic urban and suburban traffic conditions with pedestrians, cross traffic and intersections.

Still, Musk predicted that as advanced autonomous vehicle technology, such as Nvidia’s forthcoming Drive PX, is made available, self-driving cars eventually will surpass the safety of human-piloted vehicles to the point that manually driven cars — "two-ton death machines" — will be outlawed.

Third-party manufactures like Nvidia and automotive component suppliers such as Delphi all are vying for a stake in supplying the technology for self-driving cars.

Delphi is dispatching a heavily modified Audi SUV from San Francisco on a largely self-driven cross-country trip to the New York International Auto Show next month to demonstrate the company's autonomous technology.