A prototype version of the GM Unicontrol - note the center steering wheel hub is still in place.
It’s difficult to keep up with the headlines. If my count is right, we’ve already hear from Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Nissan, all revealing plans to introduce autonomous vehicles in the coming years. And that doesn’t even include Google, the high-tech firm that is putting a fleet of prototypes on the road this year.
We’re told that electronics can take over from drivers the drudgery and skill of safely and efficiently motoring from here to there, whether commuting across town or crossing from coast to coast. But, as is stated in the circa 300 BCE Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter One Verse Nine, “there is nothing new under the sun.” And the rush to put self-driving vehicles on the road reminds us old-timers of that.
The Automotive Journal of Record!
In 1958, I was a reporter for the Detroit Bureau of Business Week magazine, and witnessed the first steps on the long road to autonomous driving. The concept had been around for awhile. GM even promoted the idea at its lavish pavilion at the 1938 New York World’s Fair. Two decades later, it was ready to show us automotive scribes that science fiction was ready to become science fact.