The Self-Driving Car: History and Future

This new technology should make it super convenient to commute

The self-driving, or automatic car’s history has taken off in the past decade but was initially mentioned as far back as 1940. According to a 2012 Wiredarticle, Norman Bel Geddes’ book Magic Motorways said such a vehicle “will prevent the driver from committing errors.”

After experiments in the field in the ‘80s and ‘90s, things took a turn seven years ago. In 2008, Stanford University created “Junior,” a “robotic vehicle capable of navigating urban environments autonomously.” The car, a 2006 Passat wagon according to a Stanford University paper on “Junior,” essentially used software and sensors to get from point A to point B.

Junior-Stanford University

(Photo by Stanford University via edupapers)

In 2010 Google – according to a New York Times article – enhanced the technology. Cars went from going 25 miles per hour through to 70 miles per hour. Since then major car manufacturers have spent millions in research and development on the idea.

And it’s not going away. A BBC report from July, 2014 announced the British government (joining other European countries and a few U.S. states) were allowing “driverless cars” on public roads for testing as of last January. The provincial government has recently announced it will start testing driverless cars on Ontario roads. As for the future, more testing will need to be done. As they may work well on summer roads, winter driving combined with automatic cars might need a lot more time and research.

Main image courtesy of Google