Elon Musk Says Tesla Will Be The Leader In Autonomous Cars

Tesla CEO Elon Musk was on stage at Nivdia’s 2015 GPU Technology Conference, chatting with CEO Jen-Hsun Huang about autonomous cars and the hurdles standing in the way of self-driving tech. Musk said that a fully autonomous driving system might actually only be as little as a year away, but noted that regulation will lag several years behind tech that actually makes such a system possible. Still, he said that Tesla wants to be the leader in autonomous cars, even though it’s currently seen as an electric vehicle maker.

Musk also said we’ll actually start taking self-driven cars “for granted” much faster than many may realize, and noted that one of the key areas of focus for the company is actually on protecting any future self-driving software from malicious attacks. In addition to physical controls for manual override, Musk says there will┬ábe additional levels of security on driving systems, so that even if infotainment software is hacked, vehicle drive systems remain unaffected.

The Tesla executive was discussing autonomous vehicle tech at Nvidia’s event because Nvidia is putting resources into processor and system-on-a-chip technology that can be used as the brains of in-car intelligence systems. At this year’s CES, Nvidia showed off two brand new computing platforms for vehicles, including Drive CX and Drive PX, which focus on the infotainment and object recognition and imaging portions of vehicles respectively.

Musk’s parting message was about how committed Tesla is to providing the right kind of security necessary to protect autonomous vehicles from malicious attacks, and the impression left by its focus on that aspect of the forthcoming tech does indeed suggest they’re further along than many may realize to practical implementations of self-driving cars. The Tesla chief executive also stressed that offering self-driving tech will save a lot of motorist lives down the road.

During the Q&A, Musk also teased the announcement that Tesla is making tomorrow, which he previously tweeted will eliminate “range anxiety” for all Model S vehicles. He’s been quiet about any further details, noting only that said announcement is not about the rollout of Tesla’s quick battery swap facilities, which continue across the U.S. after an initial pilot.