Last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk made an interesting comment that went mostly unnoticed during a talk in Norway. While talking with Minister of Transport and Communications Ketil Solvik-Olsen, Musk said that based on early data from the Autopilot program, Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving system, the probability of an accident happening is about 50% lower when the system is activated.
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Here are Musk’s exact words:
“The probability of having an accident is 50% lower if you have Autopilot on. 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.”
He is referring to the first generation of the Autopilot as he expects the second generation, which should be fully autonomous, to be significantly safer as it will need to be in order to be made legal by regulators.
“I think it’s going to be important in term 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.”
While Tesla is far from getting to billions of kilometers of data, the automaker confirmed earlier this month that Tesla owners have already driven over 47 million miles (75 million km) on Autopilot since officially launching the feature in October 2015. The data is increasing exponentially as Tesla’s fleet is growing by tens of thousands of vehicles every quarter.
Musk expects Tesla’s fully autonomous Autopilot system to be ready within the next two years. While the technology should be ready by then, Musk doesn’t know exactly how long the regulatory process will take, but he is confident the data should convince them, especially since the early data from the first generation Autopilot is encouraging.
Featured Image: A member of the media test drives a Model S equipped with Autopilot in Palo Alto, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images