“Look, no hands!” While it may be hard to believe, this driverless car is from 1971.
Though autonomous vehicles may be all the rage as of late, the idea isn’t all that new. Just take a look at this video from 1971 — which is among a series of newly-released archive footage by the Associated Press and British Movietone — that shoes a mysterious driverless car being studied at Britain’s Road Research Laboratory.
The commentator introducing the futuristic technology claims the automobile is “the shape of things to come in highway travel,” and speculates that it will be part of everyday use by the year 2000.
According to the video, the system consisted of “computerized electronic impulses that are relayed to the car through a special receiving unit fixed to the front. Signals picked up from the inlaid track were interpreted by the unit to change the car’s course or its speed.” The narrator goes on to compare it to the autopilot system used in planes.
Impressively, the researchers at the lab developed the self-driving car without most of the technology readily accessible to automakers today. And while they may be 15 or so years off in terms of their timeline, the prediction was pretty darn accurate. Today, autonomous vehicles are being trailed on a 32-acre test facility at the University of Michigan, while Google has already been experimenting with cars of their own in California.