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"I do think there is a link in that in both cases, writing fiction or writing a computer program, at any given moment you're focusing on a very specific and particular thing—one word, one line of code, whatever."
- Neal Stephenson

Automatic Automobile  
  A car that drives itself.  

John Poorson, inventor, was inspired by an all-to-common circumstance:

The glancing blow from the recklessly driven automobile had spun him into the gutter, but had injured little except his pride and his clothing.

"And that is just one more reason why the average human being should not be allowed to drive such a powerful machine!" he mused to himself. "it has taken the combined intelligence of all the scientists of modern time to perfect the automobile and yet it is sold to and driven by any moronic fool who is able to gather together the few dollars necessary to buy a secondhand one."

Now, let's see what he created in response to this incident.

"I want to show you something new in the way of an automobile."

"Nothing new about this," laughed Babson, scornfully. "One of our best and most familiar models."

"How about the steering wheel?"

"Where is it?"

"I do not need one. Sit down and make yourself comfortable. Now watch me. We are going into traffic..."

From The Living Machine, by David H. Keller.
Published by Wonder Stories in 1935
Additional resources -

Just think of the advantages of the self driving car!

Old people began to cross the continent in their own cars. Young people found the driverless car admirable for petting. The blind for the first time were safe. Parents found they could more safely send their children to school in the new car than in the old cars with a chauffeur.

As far as I know, this is the first reference to the idea of an autonomous automobile.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Living Machine
  More Ideas and Technology by David H. Keller
  Tech news articles related to The Living Machine
  Tech news articles related to works by David H. Keller

Articles related to Vehicle
Lit Motors Self-Balancing Motorcycle
Robert Heinlein, Your Self-Driving Car Is Almost Ready!
Tesla 90 Percent Autonomous Car By 2015 - Elon Musk
Google Lobbies For Autonomous Motorcycles

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