The long road to autonomy


This is how we’re moving towards full automation in vehicles.

1876: Power steering is invented, but not commercially available. It first appears in trucks in 1926 and passenger cars in 1951

1904: First automatic transmission is invented

1931: A commercial version of the electric eye is invented and appears on Cadillacs in 1953 allowing it to automatically dip the headlights when it detected oncoming traffic

1948: Modern cruise control system is invented – early systems were even called “Auto pilot”

1964: James Bond creator Ian Fleming publishes the first instalment of his book Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, about a car which could drive and fly by itself.

1977: The Tsukuba Mechanical Engineering Lab in Japan pioneers computerised autonomous cars

2004: The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) runs its first competition for autonomous cars, the Grand Challenge, in the Mojave Desert

2008: Google buys 510 Systems, a small US technology company who build a modified driverless Toyota Prius to deliver pizzas

2011: London’s Heathrow Airport introduces self-driving taxi ‘pods’

2012: The US State of Nevada issues the first licence for an autonomous car

2015: By now, the majority of major automobile manufacturers have announced vehicle autonomy technologies in various forms

2016: In an Australian first, RAC Intellibus™ is trialled, helping to prepare Western Australia for automated vehicle technology

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