Will Driving Become Illegal?

Tesla Model S Autonomous

The mile markers fly by, one every 100 seconds or so. Adrenaline rushes through your body as quickly as the wind passes through your hair.

You know you’re breaking the law, but you want to see how long you can get away with it. The rumble of the gas-fueled engine growls under the hood, and you can feel the sound in your chest as you push the accelerator pedal a little deeper into the floor.

No, the car isn’t stolen, and you’re not a suspect escaping from a grisly crime.

You’re just driving.

And driving is illegal.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk thinks this could happen. He believes that within 20 years autonomous cars will be so common they will be taken for granted. In fact, he went so far as to predict that it will be illegal for humans to drive cars on public roads.

The man’s got gusto, that’s for sure.

To be clear, Musk said he hopes that doesn’t happen, but that it’s a distinct possibility once it becomes clear how much safer autonomous cars are.

He said,

In the distant future, I think people may outlaw driving cars because it’s too dangerous…. You can’t have a person driving a two-ton death machine.

Coincidentally, Tesla plans to have autonomous cars on the road by this summer. The Model S will get a software update that will allow it go into Autopilot mode and allow hands-free/feet-free driving on major roads and highways.

Anyone see any problems here?

To my knowledge, no state has passed any laws making autonomous cars legal. Some have legalized the on-road testing of such vehicles, but if a Tesla driver activated Autopilot and then, say, took a nap, I have a feeling the legal ramifications would be enormous for both the driver and the carmaker if disaster struck.

There’s no question that self-driving cars are coming. It’s more than a little disturbing to look into the future and see machines in charge of our transportation, but even more disturbing to imagine a future in which people can’t drive them.

Would you buy a car that drives itself?


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