Speaker: Georgina Lockton (University of Leicester/ Science Museum Group)

This paper examines the origins of the driverless car in Britain by taking an object-centred approach. I use the Road Research Laboratory’s Citroen DS19 as a case study, modified in the 1960s to run in a driverless mode. I discuss the method I devised for using objects as historical sources and apply it to the example of the DS19, which currently rests in the collections of the Science Museum, London. What can be learnt about the history of vehicle automation from looking directly at the car as an artefact and what can documentary sources add to the story? The paper answers these questions by providing a history of the driverless car, including how it worked and why vehicle automation was researched in Britain during the 1960s. 

IHR Seminar Series: Transport & Mobility History