A Brief Overview of Autonomous Cars: From Futurama to Google
With technology being as pervasive as it is today, the ideas of technologically advanced vehicles and motorways do not seem so farfetched. Although the thought of a flying car has not yet become a reality, the idea of an autonomous car has indeed surfaced. Steadily throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the automotive and aviary industries have been attempting to develop automated vehicles (Howley). Currently, automated headlights, cruise control, reverse warning systems, tire inflation and deflation, seat belts with locking retractors are just some of the advancements designer have developed—not to mention the Global Positioning Systems (GPS) that is already available in many devices. Designers have been striving to further develop Collision Avoidance Systems, hands-free Automated Parking, Driver Attention Monitors, the Dead Mans Switch, and Traffic Sign Recognition Systems in order to incorporate them into the cars of tomorrow. These attributes are just a few of the features that may very well find themselves into the autonomous cars of the future. It seems that “all over the world there are people trying to figure out how to build the cars of the future…Perhaps the future is not so far off as we might think – the technology that will transform our societies tomorrow is being developed today” (“Supercar: Building the Car”). In this report we will explore the evolution of the autonomous car and discuss its features, litigation, benefits, and the adversities that are associated with their development.
In 1939, at the New York Worlds Fair, designer Norman Bel Geddes was commissioned by General Motors to create an exhibit/ride that was meant to demonstrate what automobiles and motorway technologies might look like in the future (Wired Magazine). Although the world did not entirely transform into this automated system of cars and roadways, the idea of an autonomous car has remained in the minds of designers and motorists ever since. The Futurama exhibition was created in order to give people a glimpse into the future. Therefore, the Futurama ride carried passengers through realistic landscapes (giving them a birds eye view) as they listened to someone narrate what the “world of tomorrow” would be like. The people were able to look down at models of land, buildings, cars, and all of the elements of what the city and countryside would look in the future. In regards to the autonomous cars, “visitors were told about certain features these future cars might have — such as radio controls that help them maintain proper distance from each other…[but] what the Futurama ride was really selling was a highway system” (“The Original 1939 Futurama”).
The General Motors exhibit not only presented a utopian image for society, it also set the stage for urban development. The Futurama exhibit sought to show how the roads and roadway