“When Henry Ford made cheap, reliable cars people said, 'Nah, what's wrong with a horse?' That was a huge bet he made, and it worked.”

–Elon Musk, Founder of Tesla and SpaceX, 22 April 2003.

 

Since the time that automobiles have become a common consumer product, people have been looking for ways to make them truly ‘auto’ mobiles. The race to create driverless cars has been on before modern electric and digital cars very even in production. Originally developed as a prototype for the lunar lander, the Stanford Cart (pictured) of the 1960s and '70s was a simple buggy equipped with a video camera and remote control with a very long cable. In 1979 however, the cart successfully crossed a chair-filled room without human intervention in about five hours – a significant milestone for the robotics industry.

Development of powerful microprocessors and sensors has exponentially helped the realisation of that dream to the point that Tesla has launched an electric consumer car that comes with high degree of automation; including auto lane-switching, braking, and collision avoidance. 28th April marked a different kind of landmark: Tesla said a driver was killed while using its "autopilot" self-driving mechanism on its Model S electric car when it collided with a lorry. This is perhaps the first death caused by consumer automated cars and indicated that while the future is within our grasp, there is still a long way to go before our cars can drive us to work.