Never one to miss an opportunity to ruffle feathers, Tesla boss Elon Musk has stated that his company’s semi-autonomous Autopilot function reduces the chance of an accident by 50 percent, according to Electrek.
“The probability of having an accident is 50 percent lower if you have Autopilot on,” said Musk. “Even with our first version. So we can see basically what’s the average number of kilometers to an accident – accident defined by airbag deployment. Even with this early version, it’s almost twice as good as a person.”
Good drivers may take offense at Musk’s words, but these opinions are probably shared by all automakers currently developing self-driving technology. Proponents of the features cite better traffic flow, reduction in accidents, and convenience for drivers as core competencies.
Musk also noted that future versions of the Tesla Autopilot system will improve the percentage of crash reduction still further. Autopilot is, after all, still nascent, having only been introduced last year, first on the Model S, then Model X and Model 3. In January, Autopilot was updated with new functionality (and some limitations).
Presently, the technology is merely meant to “assist” drivers to reduce fatigue during highway driving, but Tesla and other automakers have claimed the hardware and software are ready for more responsibility. With regulatory permission, automakers will begin rolling out autonomous driving functions very soon.
“I think it’s going to be important in terms of satisfying regulators and the public to show statistically with a large amount of data – with billions of kilometers of driving – to say that the safety level is definitively better, by a meaningful margin, if it’s autonomous versus non-autonomous,” noted Musk.
It’s no secret that driver distractions are at an all-time high, but we won’t know whether the general populous is ready to turn the wheel over to a computer until the feds give an official nod.