This is What Self-Driving Cars Looked Like in the 1970s

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Self-driving cars are all everyone’s talking about lately. But it’s a concept that goes back decades. Just watch this self-driving car that was cruising around back in 1971. It’s actually pretty legit.

See that big box on the front bumper? It functioned as a receiving unit, where it collected computerized electronic impulses.

Unlike Google’s autonomous cars that actually “see” the real world, this one followed a trail of metallic strips placed on the road. Signals picked up from the inlaid track were interpreted by the receiving unit to change the car’s course or speed. Still pretty cool for 1971.

Researchers of the British Road Research Laboratory at the time described their project as “a bit of a pipedream” and predicted self-driving cars might be in everyday use by 2000. Their guess may have been off by some years, but fast forward 44 years to 2015 and some would argue their pipedream description might not be so far off.

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