Childhood Dreams are Becoming Reality (pt 1)
We all grow up watching movies at home and on the big screen, where Hollywood does the impossible. Producers and directors bank on their audiences expecting the unexpected. Each new action-adventure and science fiction flick raises the bar of the age-old question of what if and titillates the imaginations of all ages. Sit tight in your seat after a wildly creative movie or tiptoe into the room when little ones watch the latest superhero cartoon and listen. The innate desire for people to experience the world of autonomous living is tangible.
For over sixty years, movies and cartoons alike have tantalized audiences with the idea of a utopian future. In the fall of 1962, Hanna Barbera enchanted families with The Jetsons. This charming, animated sitcom illustrates a futuristic family living in 2062, enjoying idealistic comforts, fully equipped with self-driving cars and robot maids. In 1968, small children and their parents marveled at Disney’s beloved self-driving car, Herbie, with its iconic red, white, and blue stripes and circular number 53 on the hood. Herbie performed all sorts of crazy antics by himself as he raced across the screen with passengers Jim and Carole in tow.
Hollywood’s journey of showcasing an autonomous future didn’t stop there. In the early 1980s, David Hasselhoff’s self-aware, self-driving black Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, K.I.T.T. entertained audiences with its mesmerizing red light and crime-solving British satire. A decade later, an odd, whistling retro robot in a Johnny Cab chauffeured Arnold Schwarzenegger around the streets of Mars in Total Recall.
At the turn of the new millennium, Hollywood turned up the tech as audience interest and obsession with futuristic possibilities grew. Tom Cruise crawled up and over several driverless Lexus 2054s, rolling on 360-degree rotating wheels as they weaved through traffic at breakneck speeds in Minority Report. In 2004, viewers sat on their hands to avoid biting their nails, eyes glued to the screen as sentient humanoid robots descended on Will Smith’s Audi R.S.Q in iRobot. There is no question the tapestry of technological fantasies and autonomy weaving throughout the Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel, and DC franchises over the last four generations continues to inspire directors, cinema groupies, and even patent inventors with technological visions. No matter what movie franchise people favor, millions of hearts secretly long to actually own one or more of the vehicles from their Mattel toy collection.
It’s 2022. Although The Jetsons’ autonomous reality is technically forty years away, and entire autonomous civilizations on other planets and our own remain fictional, some of the so-called pipe dreams from childhood are now a true-to-life reality for worldwide rising generations. Hollywood-inspired ideas, mingled with sparks of innovative, creative genius from early 1800s engineering to Tesla’s humble 2003 beginnings, are creating a modern revolution that is growing exponentially faster than anyone could’ve thought possible, even 20 years ago.¹ Every week, new and electrifying advancements bring autonomous innovations to life in many different industries, most notably in the automotive industry.
1. Wilson, Car and Driver, “Worth the Watt: A Brief History of the Electric Car, 1830 to Present,” March 15, 2018 https://www.caranddriver.com/features/g15378765/worth-the-watt-a-brief-history-of-the-electric-car-1830-to-present/