Drivers not needed

Although Google’s success with the driverless technology has been remar­kable, the history of driverless cars da­tes back to more than 50 years. For ex­ample, an early representation of the autonomous car was Norman Bel Ge­ddes’s Futurama exhibit sponsored by General Motors at the 1939 Worl­d’s Fair, which depicted electric cars powered by circuits embedded in the roa­dway and controlled by radio. Lat­er, in the 1980s, a vision-guided Me­rcedes-Benz robotic van, designed by Ernst Dickmanns and his team at the Bun­deswehr University in Mun­ich, Germ­any, achieved 100 km/h on str­eets wit­hout traffic. Also, in the 1980s the DA­RPA-funded autonom­ous land vehicle (ALV) in the US ach­ieved the first roa­d-following demons­tration th­at used laser radar (Environ­mental Re­search Institute of Michi­gan), com­puter visi­on (Carnegie Mell­on Univer­sity and SRI), and auton­omous robot­ic control (Carnegie Mell­on Universi­ty) to control a robotic vehicle up to 30 km/h.