Embrace the future of travel on Autonomous Vehicle Day, celebrated yearly on May 31. While self-driving cars have until recently only lived in our imaginations (or on the silver screen), technology and science have combined to bring us the dawn of a new era in travel, when automobiles can go from one place to another without anyone touching the wheel. Founded to honor the advances in the autonomous vehicle industry and to recognize the potential opportunities thereof, Autonomous Vehicle Day shows us how close we are to a sea change in the way the world travels.
History of Autonomous Vehicle Day
Autonomous vehicles are not a new concept; the legend of flying carpets is the earliest form of human imagination dreaming up a driverless vehicle. Multiple technology innovations over the years have brought autonomous vehicle development to where it is today such as the guidance system of torpedoes and General Motors’ 1958 Chevy, which had pick-up coils allowing this model to steer itself. In fact, this journey began almost 100 years ago, when army engineer Francis Houdina attached a radio control system to a car, allowing him to control it via remote control. To demonstrate features like turning, moderating speed, and honking, he drove this car around the streets of New York. Apparently, the driverless car spooked passersby, who took to calling it the ‘phantom car’.
Of course, innovation in autonomous vehicles is not limited to cars alone. Local Motors developed Olli, which is an automated electric, cognitive shuttle, which can transport up to 12 passengers at a time. Additionally, self-driving passenger vehicles, self-driving buses, and autonomous commercial trucks are also being developed. The Department of Defense is also purportedly developing self-driving military vehicles.
Entrepreneurial ecosystem platform Emerging Prairie and American technology talk show host Marlo Anderson founded Autonomous Vehicle Day in 2017.
Autonomous Vehicle Day timeline
Supposedly, a magic carpet flies King Phraates II of Parthia into battle.
Robert Whitehead develops technology that uses a self-propelled guidance system for torpedoes to maintain depth.
Army engineer Francis Houdina establishes the Houdina Radio Control firm, which develops a car that can be driven via remote control on the streets of New York — locals call this the ‘phantom car’ as no one is driving it.
Car giant General Motors exhibits “Futurama: Highways & Horizons” at the New York World’s Fair, showcasing the future of automated highways and how electronics could be used to allow cars to steer themselves.
The Stanford Cart shows robotic mobility with a remote control and a camera — it moves across a room for five hours without human intervention.
Autonomous Vehicle is Revealed
The first autonomous vehicle is unveiled at Japan’s Tsukuba Mechanical Engineering Lab by Sadayuki Tsugawa and his colleagues.
German scientist Ernst Dickmanns's experiments see his van become the first vehicle to drive autonomously on the skidpan at a research university of Germany's armed forces.
Two limousines pick up guests from Charles de Gaulle airport in France and then switch to self-driving mode to demonstrate the autonomous capabilities of the Mercedes 500 SEL.
DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) initiates competitions to challenge companies to create autonomous cars.
An electric bus with automotive systems and no driver hits the roads in Finland.
The U.S. Department of Transportation announces the creation of the first 10 testing sites dedicated to developing autonomous vehicles.
May 31 is celebrated as Autonomous Vehicle Day henceforth.
Autonomous Vehicle Day FAQs
What year will self-driving cars be available?
Predictions in 2016 mentioned 2020/2021 as the time autonomous vehicles would be mainstream. While the pandemic has derailed the plans for the moment, expect to see much more innovation in the future.
What are the five levels of autonomous vehicles?
Automotive experts break autonomous levels down to levels from 0 to 5, all with varying degrees of automation, ranging from almost no automation to complete driverless vehicles.
Which cars are fully autonomous?
Models like the 2020 Tesla Model S., 2020 Volvo XC60, and the 2021 Toyota RAV4 are all autonomous.
How To Celebrate Autonomous Vehicle Day
Learn about autonomous vehicles
Celebrate by doing the very thing the founders of this day intended — learn more about autonomous vehicles and their history in the world. Also, learning more about the past innovations and explorations of autonomous vehicles can tell you more about where we’re headed.
Share your experience
If you’ve been fortunate enough to set foot (or see) an autonomous vehicle in person, don’t be shy, share your experience with the world. Post about this on social media or simply talk about it. Tell the world what these vehicles can do. Your experience can help excite more people about this innovation.
Attend autonomous car expositions
Keep an ear out for special autonomous car expositions or showcases, and make sure to attend them if you can. It’s a great chance to learn about the latest technology driving this sector and meet fellow autonomous vehicle enthusiasts at the same time.
Fun Facts About Autonomous Vehicle Day
Stats support it
The Brookings Institution says one-quarter of all cars will be autonomous by 2040.
Major companies all have a stake
Apart from automotive giants, major companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, Cisco, and Microsoft are also exploring this technology.
Governments are investing in this, too
Governments across the globe are investing trillions of dollars into automated technology.
From Mars to cars
NASA technology used in Mars rovers would be incorporated to control Nisan MotoCorp's fleet of driverless cars, the company revealed.
There's a special place for such vehicles
North Dakota proposed Autonomous Friendly Corridors for such vehicles.
Why We Love Autonomous Vehicle Day
We're going (back) to the future!
Self-driving cars are what the movies and sci-fi books have promised us for a while now, and we're excited to see how this reality will look. This day helps us take a quick stroll down memory lane and see how reality compares to the showbiz version of autonomous cars. So far, they've surpassed our expectations.
Safe driving is a thing of the future
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported around 94% of all traffic crashes are caused by human error. Reducing the human role is expected to reduce car accidents and save lives. This also has the add-on benefit of saving money. If you don’t crash, you don’t need to rehabilitate your vehicle, saving you countless dollars over the years.
It inspires everyone to share in our love of autonomous cars
The autonomous vehicle industry has been making great strides to change the future of travel as we know it, and we are here for the revolution. If more and more people knew about it they can be prepared for what will be our future.
Autonomous Vehicle Day dates