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Open Access Publications from the University of California

An Overview of Automated Highway Systems (AHS) and the Social and Institutional Challenges They Face


The idea of automated driving dates back more than 50 years, when General Motors (GM) presented a vision of "driverless" vehicles moved under automated control at the 1939 World's Fairs in New York. In the late 1950's, research by industrial organizations conceptualized automated vehicles controlled by mechanical systems and radio controls. After the first appearance of computers in the 1960's, researchers began to consider potential uses of computers to provide lateral and longitudinal control and traffic management. The fully automated highway concept was initially examined by GM with sponsorship from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) during the late 1970's. In this period, focus was placed on automated vehicles operating on a highway, because the computers were not powerful enough to consider a fully automated highway.

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