Tesla’s Full Self-Driving technology will fix one problem in cities, but cause another one, according to Elon Musk.
Musk said during the company’s recent earnings call that he “would be shocked” if the in-development feature wasn’t capable of driving a car more safely than a human by the end of 2022, which will allow it to unlock a new value for customers.
If it achieves autonomy, Tesla owners will be able to deploy their cars into a self-driving ride-hailing service when they’re not using them, which will allow them (and Tesla) to earn money on the vehicles.
Musk said a side effect will be a huge reduction in the need for parking spaces, since the vehicles will barely ever be standing still.”
“A lot of cars are in parking lots, so we’re spending money, not just driving the cars but storing them all over the place. We can get rid of a lot of parking lots if you have a car that is operating all the time,” Musk said.
Musk said he projects the cost to get a ride in one of the vehicles will be less than taking the bus or subway and safer, but with so many vehicles in operation the traffic will become “insane.” Luckily, he has another business designed to address this issue by taking traffic underground in tunnels.
“So, you know, we like this little tiny baby company, The Boring Company, which I initially started as a joke, but now I think it actually could be quite essential to alleviating the insane traffic that will happen when cars are autonomous because you reduce the pain of travel and you reduce the cost of travel so dramatically that there will be a crazy number of cars on the road,” he said.
The Boring Company currently operates a shuttle-type “Loop” service with human-driven cars in a 1.7-mile-long tunnel in Las Vegas, but Musk has previously described a system where autonomous vehicles would enter a vast network of subterranean roads where they would tap into a system that would allow them to travel at high speeds in close proximity to each other like data packets in a computer program.
No timeframe on testing such a network has been offered, but The Boring Company has several new tunnel projects in the works, including an expansion of the Las Vegas Loop and a similar system that’s under consideration for Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.