Short answer – no! We could have an autonomous steam car if we wanted. Or an electric vehicle controlled only by a human being. There is quite a difference between using electricity to move a vehicle which does involve connectivity to establish the nearest source of power as well as the operational status of the drive / energy storage systems, and the dream: Autonomy.
Autonomous systems should have the capability to get to any destination we like without ever requiring input from the vehicle occupants – we ‘order’ the start date / time / destination and when the vehicle arrives we have only to get in. A bit like a taxi. Such driverless systems have existed for many years already. Most international airports have these and some city mass transport systems too.
The fuss? Any destination. No pre-defined specific routes: Any direction, any destination, any time without using a driver. The bottom line is such capability is possible right now, but full scale testing with millions of users has not taken place…. yet. Until it does, no Government nor insurer anywhere in the world will back a fully autonomous system unless there are very special limited use conditions, such as a defined zone of a city for example.
So a thought. If we really did have steam powered autonomous vehicles, at least there would be something to do beside viewing Social Media. Other activities are also possible. Enjoy!