Cars that drive themselves while you sleep only two years away, says Elon Musk

Will Worley

Self-driving cars reliable enough for people to sleep in are just two years away from being reality, according to Elon Musk.

The Tesla Motors chief and futurist was speaking at a Ted conference and outlined his thoughts about the future of transportation.

In addition to major projects in space exploration and energy storage, Mr Musk has invested huge amounts of money into a project aimed at improving infrastructure in traffic-heavy cities.

Asked when it would be possible to get into an autonomous car and have a snooze while being whisked to your destination, Mr Musk said: “I think that’s about two years. The real trick of it is not to say ‘How do you make it work 99.9 per cent of the time?'

“If a car crashes one in a thousand times, you’re probably still not going to be comfortable falling asleep.

“But at the same time, it’s never going to be perfect. No system is going to be perfect. But if you say perhaps, ‘The car is unlikelier to crash than in a hundred lifetimes or a thousand lifetimes’, people are likely to say ‘Wow, if I was to live a thousand lifetimes, and never experience a crash, that’s probably OK’.”

Mr Musk’s latest project is infrastructure and tunnelling outfit The Boring Company. Mr Musk conceived the idea for the company while stuck in traffic last December and tweeted about his desire to build a “tunnel-boring machine and just start digging”.

He elaborated on his plans for The Boring Company at the conference, playing a video which showed cars being delivered underground from a normal road via a platform lift. The platform then attached to a subterranean track system to travel.

Photos apparently showing tunnel drilling equipment branded The Boring Company emerged on social media last week. But Mr Musk said he only spends a small amount of time on the project, and it is mostly run by “interns and people doing it part-time”.

In addition to his famous SpaceX project, Mr Must previously came up with the concept of the high speed hyperloop train.

A different company, Hyperloop One, was commissioned last year to connect the Gulf cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai - 150km apart - in just 12 minutes.

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