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Autonomous car ready in 6 years: Tesla CEO

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk.
Toru Hanai | Reuters
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk.

The technology needed to create a fully autonomous car will be ready in five or six years, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk told The Wall Street Journal. Compared to a driver behind the wheel, Mr. Musk expects autonomous driving to be safer for riders and pedestrians by a factor of 10.

Musk said the biggest challenge to tech development is fine-tuning "machine vision"—a computer's ability to quickly recognize objects. If only part of an object is visible by camera or radar, computers still have trouble figuring out what the entire object might be, making it difficult to determine the correct course of action for the vehicle.

"It's kind of scary: what's going to become of us humans," he joked.

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The Palo Alto, California-based electric car manufacturer is developing its own autonomous driving technology for its electric vehicles.

Musk noted, though, that even once the technology is available, it may take several more years to sort out all the necessary regulations.

By CNBC.com staff