Updated: February 21st, 2019

It’s a dream that’s been around since at least the late 1930s, when the public imagination was sparked by the Futurama exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair. Take a look at how cars learn to be human, and why they’ll be better at it than we are.

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Velodyn LiDAR unit

A Velodyne LiDAR unit atop a driverless car in China’s 2015 Intelligent Vehicle Future Challenge (Source: Velodyne)

The world is precariously close to seeing a chapter of 20th-century science fiction become reality, as companies like Google, Mercedes, and Tesla develop technologies that promise to eventually offer consumers a car that can drive itself. It’s a dream that’s been around since at least the late 1930s, when the public imagination was sparked by the Futurama exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair.

While the Googles of the world continue to stoke our sense of wonder at this future, pragmatists in the auto industry have recognized the value in eliminating human faults like sleepy, distracted, or drunk driving, which offers the promise of significantly safer driving. In all likelihood, it will be these pragmatic advances in safety and convenience that ulti