Driving cars could be "outlawed" says Elon Musk

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Driving cars could be outlawed says Tesla founder Elon Musk

Driving a vehicle is too dangerous for humans and will be outlawed when autonomous cars are proven to be safer, claims Elon Musk, billionaire founder of electric car company Tesla.

Musk, who is also CEO of space exploration company Space X, said that governments would criminalise driving – and described a car as a "two-tonne death machine".

"People may outlaw driving cars because it's too dangerous," said Musk. "You can't have a person driving a two-tonne death machine."

Removing the risk of collision with other road users through the use of autonomous driving technology "will save a lot of lives", Musk claimed.

Vehicle design could also change radically if accidents aren't a concern for designers. "If you could count on not having an accident you can get rid of a huge amount of the crash structure and the airbags," he said.

His comments were made during a speech given in San Jose, California, at the annual developer conference of Nvidia, an American technology company that specialises in graphics chips.

Musk founded Tesla in 2003 to develop electric car design and technology, but has been increasingly focusing on self-driving vehicles.

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"Tesla is the leader in electric cars, and we'll also be the leader in autonomous cars," said Musk. "It's going to be the default thing".

"It's just going to become normal, like an elevator," he continued. "They used to have elevator operators and then we developed simple circuitry to have elevators just automatically come to the floor you're at… the car is going to be just like that."

Musk said that the transition to fully driverless cars would take more than two decades due to the number of manual cars currently in use.

In a recent interview with Dezeen, Robert Melville – chief designer at supercar brand McLaren – said his studio was already anticipating a future where cars are legally obliged to operate autonomously in urban areas.

Musk also revealed that Tesla was treating hacking of driverless cars as a serious threat, but said his firm was implementing layers of security to make it "difficult to hack something that's physically dangerous" to passengers.

"What we spend most of our time on is making sure it's very difficult to do a multi-car hack," explained Musk. "We've put a lot of effort into that, and we've had third parties try to hack it."

Tesla launched its Model SD last year, which features autonomous safety technologies that enable the vehicle to stay within lanes on motorways while also continuously monitoring for potential hazards. The vehicle is capable of parking itself and can also be summoned via a smartphone.

Other driverless vehicles featured on Dezeen include a racing car by German manufacturer Audi and Google's pod-like vehicle design. In February 2015, the UK's government announced its intention to transform the country into a hub of autonomous car development by approving proposals to test self-driving vehicles on public streets.