BBC re self-driving Alden staRRcar

Self-driving on track in 1967 feat. BBC Archive footage of an amazing connected, automated, shared and electric vehicle.

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Cars of the Past: BBC’s 1967 report on self-driving Alden staRRcar

As regular Cars of the Future readers will know, we occasionally like to look back in a series we call… Cars of the Past. Well, today is one of those days.

Following last year’s release of a 1971 news broadcast on “driverless cars and the future of motoring”, the BBC Archive has published another great Retro Transport report: “The Self-Driving Car Of Tomorrow”, from 1967.

The “dual-mode” Self-Transport Road and Rail Car (staRRcar), was designed by Harvard graduate William Alden in the 1960s.

The report describes it as “America’s answer to the universal problem of personal transport in congested cities – combining the door-to-door convenience of the private car with the speed and relaxation of public transport at its best.”

Self-driving on track

The battery-powered three-seater can be driven ‘normally’ on local roads, but also has the ability to join automated guideways – 8ft-wide tracks designed to be installed alongside existing road lanes.

Self-driving on track in 1967: Alden staRRcar
Self-driving on track in 1967: Alden staRRcar

Users simply press a button to select their destination, sit back and read the paper, while the staRRcar slots into a train of such vehicles, self-driving at up to 60mph.

After taking a spur exit, they can retake control and continue their journey, or leave the staRRcar at a car park, ready to be used by others.

So… connected, automated, shared and electric (CASE) – that’s pretty forward-thinking for 2023, let alone 1967.

Thanks to Dr Nick Reed, of Reed Mobility, on Linkedin for putting us on to this video.

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Author: Neil Kennett

Neil is MD of Featurebank Ltd. He launched in 2019.