It’s generally expected that autonomous vehicles will prove to be safer than those driven by fallible humans, but hard figures will be needed to convince regulators and a skeptical public. During a talk in Norway, Elon Musk said that Tesla is beginning to amass some statistics on the safety of its Autopilot-equipped vehicles.
“The probability of having an accident is 50% lower if you have Autopilot on, even with our first version,” said the Disruptor of Detroit. “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.”
Musk expects the second-generation Autopilot system, which will be capable of full autonomy, to be even safer, and is confident that usage data will convince regulators to give the system a green light.
“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.”
Tesla said earlier this month that Tesla owners have driven over 47 million miles on Autopilot since it became available last October, and the body of data is rapidly increasing as more Autopilot-equipped Teslas hit the road.