Elon Musk on the self-driving cars of the future

Josh Lowensohn, in The Verge:

Tesla has already added some self-driving features to its cars, but is working on technology that will let the car drive itself completely. An “autopilot” mode introduced for the Model S will do things like change speed, brake, and keep you in the correct lanes using on-board sensors. The next logical step is combining that with highway driving and navigation features to let the car drive the driver. In an interview last October, Musk said models the company was working on for this year would be “90 percent capable of autopilot.”

Today, Musk noted that the hardest part of helping cars drive themselves is what happens when vehicles are traveling between 15 and 50 miles per hour. “That’s where you get a lot of unexpected things,” Musk said. That list includes road closures, open manhole covers, children playing, and bicyclists. Lots of things that your robot car could run into without human remorse.

This feels like a transitional time, but it’ll be interesting to see how this unfolds either way. I can see urban centers locking down, effectively taxing “off-grid” cars out of existence. But maybe it’ll just be commercial vehicles — taxis, long haul trucking, airlines — that become robotic. I will say that I wouldn’t mind living in Minority Report’s vision of the future on the road.