A lot has been considered about the race for the self-driving car, as Tesla, Uber and other auto giants fight to be the first to perfect autonomous driving.
Ford is promising a “fully self-driving” commercial cars under five years– even beer trucks are making deliveries without a human behind the wheel, utilizing innovation not too unlike Tesla’s “autopilot” function.
Yet, as far as the innovation has advanced throughout the years, the progress can begin to underwhelm the longer it drags out– at least up until you understand just how far the dream has come.
An ideal example to show back on is the enthusiastic Firebird II concept automobile, dreamed up and constructed by the futurists at General Motors in 1956.
Highlighted on the recent episode of CNBC’s “Jay Leno’s Garage,” the gas turbine-powered vehicle was the first auto ever constructed out of titanium and used a peek into exactly what the future of driving might look like, complete with an automated driving system that was managed by contacting an electronic strip on the highway underneath the automobile.
A General Motors marketing video included at its 1956 traveling automotive Motorama display illustrated how the automobile would enable a driver to take their hands off the wheel while the Firebird II effortlessly drove itself down the highway.
“This was the start of autonomous driving,” comedian and auto enthusiast Jay Leno told, including how unsustainable the concept of having the equivalent of air traffic controllers monitoring the automobile along the road was.
“I believe the vision in the past was to have these towers like every 20 miles.”.
Obviously, the idea of an electronic highway and highway controllers in towers never removed, however 6 decades later on, General Motors is being proven right in forecasting a feature that has now all but become expected of upcoming models.