With the autonomous car idea making huge leaps towards being part of our life, I wonder: where was it first mentioned in movies or a TV show? What is the earliest movie or TV show where the idea was mentioned?

I would like to know about actual autonomous cars, not magical cars (i.e. driven with technology, not magic), and only actual cars, not horses or airplanes.

  • 1
    Are magic cars allowed? (ie: cars that drive themselves via magic rather than technology.) What's the lower bound on the definition of "car"? (Would a horse-drawn carriage sans horses still count?)
    – Steve-O
    Jul 17, 2017 at 13:18
  • 1
    @Steve-O see the edit, my example was indeed a mistake. Jul 17, 2017 at 13:36
  • @cde that's stretching the rope, but good question... I'd say it doesn't answer the direct question, but still nice to have info. Not sure if it fits as answer. Jul 17, 2017 at 19:21
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    "The Love Bug", starring Herbie the Love Bug, came out in 1968. But everyone would probably call that magical rather than technological. Jul 17, 2017 at 20:42

5 Answers 5


1968 - Batman - TV Series

In season two of the iconic TV series, Batman uses the Batmobile’s “remote control activator” to summon the car to come pick him up. The world’s first driverless car? ‘Fraid not—just a crew member crouched low behind the wheel. The Batmobile from the 1989 film of the same name had a similar feature.


enter image description here

1976 - Logan's Run - Movie

The legendary car customizer Dean Jeffries put together the autonomous “pod cars” that some would argue stole the show in Logan’s Run. The cars were variously made of fibreglass or steel, and mostly powered by VW engines, save for one with a Chevy V8.

enter image description here

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    Wrong link, what you quoted does not appear there. Jul 17, 2017 at 15:03
  • Sure it does...you just have to page through the gallery.
    – Paulie_D
    Jul 17, 2017 at 15:04
  • Oh my. Worst user experience ever. Picture gallery should be, well, picture gallery. Not a content menu. Thanks anyway, the information is useful. :-) Jul 17, 2017 at 15:06

I don't know if this is the first. In Knight Rider series beginning in 1982 K.I.T.T. has a very high artificial intelligence and can drive autonomous.


Woody Allen's Sleeper (1973) includes driverless cars.

enter image description here


I'm sure one will be found to pre-date this, but as far as movies the earliest I can think of is the Johnny Cab in Total Recall (1990).


I am not sure it qualifies, but there is a radio-controlled car in the 1949 Film Serial "King of the Rocket Men" in which a car is remote controlled to by the Antagonist, Dr Vulcan, to assassinate a Scientist.

You can watch it on Youtube here, the Scene in question starts at 1:40

  • Radio != autonomous.
    – cde
    Jul 18, 2017 at 18:04
  • @cde: that's why i said i wasn't sure. Still no reason to downvote though
    – J.C.
    Jul 18, 2017 at 18:08

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