Bill Gates says self-driving cars will be as revolutionary as the PC after riding in one

Elon Musk and Bill Gates have butted heads over issues from climate change to artificial intelligence (if we’re being honest, it’s the Chief Twit that’s done most of the butting) — but the two tech billionaires may agree on one thing: the transformative potential of self-driving cars.

The Microsoft cofounder dedicated his most recent blog post to the budding world of autonomous vehicles, predicting that the technology will reach “a tipping point” within the next decade. Once cars become truly self-driving, he said, they’ll be as revolutionary as the personal computer.

“When it happens, AVs will change transportation as dramatically as the PC changed office work,” Gates wrote.

He recently took a ride in an autonomous vehicle developed by Wayve, a UK startup, and appeared impressed. (You can watch the video below.) He called the experience “fantastic,” though he noted in his blog post that the human safety driver beside him took control of the car several times.

“The car drove us around downtown London, which is one of the most challenging driving environments imaginable, and it was a bit surreal to be in the car as it dodged all the traffic,” Gates wrote.

Today, no personal vehicles can drive themselves, though some companies have started offering autonomous-taxi rides in certain cities. Those services, like GM’s Cruise and Alphabet’s Waymo, use detailed maps and programming to operate only in certain sections of cities. In contrast, Wayve (much like Tesla) wants to develop an artificial-intelligence-enabled vehicle that can learn to drive anywhere, even places it’s never been before.

Gates believes personal vehicles will get self-driving capabilities only after the tech comes to long-haul trucking, deliveries, taxis, and rental cars. He predicts that autonomous vehicles will eventually be cheaper than regular ones.

And he expects that autonomous vehicles will save people time (that they would otherwise be driving) and help the elderly and people with disabilities get around. However, he thinks widespread popularity is probably “decades away.”

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