How Well Will Your Driverless Car Know You?

How Well Will Your Driverless Car Know You?
The V1 Edition

Self-driving cars might soon know you better than you know yourself. Tesla CEO and founder, Elon Musk, has announced on Twitter that his autonomous vehicles are being designed to predict a passenger’s destination.

The autonomous car revolution – being pushed forward by the likes of Google, Uber and Ford, as well as Musk’s Tesla – is no longer the stuff of science fiction, and driverless vehicles could be commercially available by 2020.

The development of sophisticated artificial intelligence is key to the success of autonomous cars. AI will be used for sensing, mapping and driver policy (mainly, recognizing other vehicles and pedestrians, and reacting to their movement). And for Musk, this level of technology could easily be applied to getting to know the preferences of its primary user.  

When Twitter user James Harvey suggested that it “would be cool to get in my car and ask it to take me somewhere,” Musk responded succinctly: “It won't even need to ask you most of the time.” And, later on in the same thread, Musk said that the vehicles wouldn’t have to “be Sherlock Holmes” to learn that, for example, when you get in your car at 7am, you are probably going to work.

While Tesla’s vehicles are not fully automated, or what the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) considers “level 5 autonomy”, a new feature is anticipated to come out that could enable the company to achieve its goals, namely to drive from Los Angeles to New York city without any human intervention by the end of 2017.

Of course, that deadline has already been and gone, so it would make sense that developing a car that can second guess its driver isn’t the highest priority for Musk right now. Rather, Tesla is probably more concerned with getting its cars on the road to begin with. Still, for a billionaire whose lofty ambitions are often achieved, creating a car that instinctively knows its drivers destination is not beyond the realm of possibility.