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A Will Smith movie helped inspire Elon Musk’s self-driving car ideas

I, Robot is one of the many decent action movies starring Will Smith that have been released in the past fifteen years or so, but there’s nothing especially noteworthy about it, or is there? Whereas most of us probably only remember a couple of scenes from the movies, Elon Musk actually based some of his self-driving car ideas on the fictional self-driving Audi RSQ that Will Smith used in the movie, which could drive autonomously but was still able to be manually controlled by a human driver if need be. 

There are very few guarantees when Elon Musk takes the stage to announce a new product. There is one, however: he’ll say some crazy stuff. Today’s autopilot announcement was no exception. Talking about the future of self-driving, Musk mentioned that he believes his company is about three years away from a fully autonomous car that the driver never has to control, so you can sleep or work or whatever suits your fancy while you go about your commute. “Eventually, they’re won’t be wheels or pedals. You’ll just jump in a car and go somewhere,” he said. That’s an extreme take, but it’s a vision that Google shares. Later, though, Musk walked it back a bit, admitting that a fully autonomous pod “sounds boring” and suggesting that cars of the future could function like Will Smith’s Audi RSQ in I, Robot — usually autonomous, but with an optional manual override, popping a steering wheel out of the dash on command. “I think you want to have a steering wheel and pedals and be able to take control of the car when you want to take control,” he said.

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