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Tesla CEO Elon Musk says human driving will be illegal

Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk believes that it could soon be illegal for human beings to drive cars.

The South African-born entrepreneur believes that mainstream adoption of autonomous cars will improve safety standards to such an extent that manually operating vehicles will be outlawed.

Read more: Self-driving cars unlikely to hit roads before 2025

Speaking at Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference, Musk compared future changes to the automobile industry to the way that modern elevators replaced those that had to be controlled manually.

"In the distant future, [legislators] may outlaw driven cars because they’re too dangerous," he said. "We’ll take autonomous cars for granted in quite a short time. It’s going to be the default thing and it’s going to save a lot of lives."

While Musk doesn’t believe that this transition will happen within the next decade, some semiautonomous features are arriving on Tesla’s Model S cars later this year via a software update. It will enable vehicles to enter an autopilot mode when on motorways, but the driver must remain behind the wheel and paying attention at all times.

The update will also provide an auto-summoning feature, which allows the car to pick you up autonomously. However, this feature is illegal in public areas, so can only be used on private property.

A number of other firms have also entered the autonomous car space with Google, Audi, Mercedes Benz and Nissan all working on projects of their own.

Facing criticism online that Tesla supports seeing humans banned from driving, Elon Musk stated that his firm was strongly against the idea.

Read more: Richard Branson teases Virgin electric car release

“To be clear, Tesla is strongly in favor of people being allowed to drive their cars and always will be. Hopefully, that is obvious,” he tweeted. “However, when self-driving cars become safer than human-driven cars, the public may outlaw the latter. Hopefully not.”

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.