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Self-driving cars to be on market in 5 years: Tesla CEO

(Global Times)    15:12, March 30, 2015

Self-driving technology for vehicles is expected to be ready for mass production in five years, Elon Musk, CEO of US premium electric car producer Tesla Motors Inc, said during the Boao Forum on Sunday.

The large-scale production of cars featuring a driverless option will probably occur in five years, with help from government policies, Musk said during a breakfast meeting with Li Yanhong, CEO of China's Internet giant Baidu, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Although the technology has developed very fast, it will still take a very long time to replace all automobiles in the market into autonomous ones, he said, noting that the total number of vehicles on the road has reached 2 billion, and production stands at about 100 million a year.

Musk has expressed high expectations for self-driving vehicles. On March 17, he publicly wrote on his Twitter that "when self-driving cars become safer than human-driven cars, the public may outlaw the latter, but hopefully not."

In 2014, Elon Musk predicted the technology to make a fully autonomous car will be ready in five or six years, according to Tesla's website.

Baidu is also carving out territories for self-driving technology, while Li, as host and interlocutor at the breakfast dialogue, did not make any comments on the technology during the meeting.

Baidu's self-driving technology is still at an experimental stage and is expected to be tried out on a highway at the end of 2015, Guo Yiguang, Baidu's spokesperson, told the Global Times Sunday.

In September 2014, Baidu said on its website it aims to develop a semi-autonomous vehicle in three years in partnership with BMW.

However, analysts think that self-driving cars will not be put on the market soon.

Gao Jian, an industry analyst at Shanghai-based consultancy LMC Automotive, said that it will take more than five years before a self-driving car will be made available to the public for purchase.

"It takes two or three years to conduct car tests," and at least another two years to get Chinese government's approval for commercialization, Gao told Global Times on Sunday.

Safety is also considered as one of the major hurdles from the popularization of self-driving autos, Gao noted.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Du Mingming,Yao Chun)

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