Written By: Bianca Mazziotti
Around the 1930’s was when the driverless car was really prominent in science fiction. Reading about all the interesting, and beneficial aspects fascinated the public about what a driverless car could bring. “Old people began to cross the continent in their own cars. Young people found the driverless car admirable for petting. The blind for the first time were safe. Parents found they could more safely send their children to school in the new car than in the old cars with a chauffeur.” (David H. Keller, 1935)
American designer, Norman Bel Geddes, was focused on actually making this type of car a reality: “His spectacular Futurama ride for General Motors at the 1939 World’s Fair also imagined trench-like lanes that would keep cars apart in their own “tracks.”” (Marc Webber, 2013) His dream was to create a safer road experience by having tracks, and the cars would automatically drive at a safe distance from the vehicle in front.
By 1993, Ernst Dickmann’s worked on the Eureka PROMETHEUS Project. The test vehicle, VaMoRs, was Dickmann’s Mercedes van. His laboratory spearheaded self-driving technology and he was able to get his Mercedes to drive on its own, up to 110mph.
In 2004 a new challenge faced artificial intelligence experts. “The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration (DARPA) challenged dozens of teams then working on autonomous vehicles to compete for a $1 million prize.” (Marc Webber, 2013) During that year no one was able to create anything that was efficient enough, however, in 2005, the competitors upped the anti and many of them were able to drive by themselves, for many miles without a single scratch. Since then the development to get these cars on the road as soon as possible has increased with more and more companies jumping on board.
Today it is possible to purchase your own driverless car; there are some limitations though. It is called Navia and it can only go 12 miles per hour. With the cost being around 250,000 dollars, to most people it is hard to justify why it would be worth purchasing it. So the public will have to wait patiently until 2017 when Google releases their autonomous car.
Keller, David. "The Living Machine." Wonder Stories 1935. Print.
Webber, Marc. "VaMoRs." CHM Blog Where to A History of Autonomous Vehicles
Comments. Computer History, 2013. Web. 22 Nov. 2013. <http://www.computerhistory.org/atchm/where-to-a-history-of-autonomous-vehicles/>.