The U.S. Government Tried to Make a Smart Highway With Driverless Cars, in the '90s The U.S. Government Tried to Make a Smart Highway With Driverless Cars, in the '90s
Technology

The U.S. Government Tried to Make a Smart Highway With Driverless Cars, in the '90s

by Meghan Neal

May 19, 2013

Driverless cars. Much like hoverboards, it feels like we've been waiting for them for ages.
Probably that's because we have. As Matt Novak points out in the Smithsonian's amazing Paleofuture blog (which Novak actually brought over to Gizmodo, starting today), the automated highway was imagined as long ago as 1939.
 
In 1991, the U.S. government decided to actually try it out.
 
Congress set aside $650 million for the "Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency act" to build the technology for an automated highway. The goal was safer roads, faster travel and conserving fuel. (Climate change was only kind of a thing at that point.) 
 
Though it never came to pass, in 1997 they demoed several "hands off, legs off" vehicles in San Diego. Watch the video from that demo below, in all its '90s splendor. And be sure to check out the full post and enjoy the trip down the rabbit hole at Paleofuture.
 

 
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The U.S. Government Tried to Make a Smart Highway With Driverless Cars, in the '90s