January 29 2014
photo by Reuters/Edgar Su
This commentary appeared in The Detroit News on January 28, 2014.
The idea of cars that drive themselves is hardly new. In fact, for decades Americans have been teased with the promise of automobiles that pilot themselves across the countryside, freeing passengers to chat, read, play games, and sleep.
“One day your car may speed along an electric super-highway, its speed and steering automatically controlled by electronic devices,” promised a 1957 magazine advertisement from America's Independent Electric Light and Power Companies. “Highways will be made safe — by electricity! No traffic jams…no collisions…no driver fatigue.”
Futurists of past generations may have been a bit over-optimistic in predicting when self-driving cars would make their debut (a General Motors Corporation exhibit at the 1939 New York Worlds Fair suggested 1960 as reasonable target date), but the promise of autonomous vehicles is finally near to being realized.