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In honour of Google’s new driving licence, I thought I would review a few self-driving cars from scifi films.  And there are quite a few of them.  Does it say something about how lazy humans are that we dream of a world in which we don’t even have to drive ourselves around?

First up: Johnny Cabs, from Total Recall 

Everyone loves a good Arnie film, and this one has enough chase scenes and bulging muscles to satisfy anyone.  Also explosions.  But what we’re interested in here is the Johnny Cab.  These ubiquitous cabs are the taxi service on Earth – complete with the talking head of “Johnny”, who asks you where you’re going, reminds you to fasten your seatbelt, and talks about random things.  Interestingly, the Johnny Cabs also come equipped with a joystick driving control, although in order to use it poor Arnie had to rip out the talking head.  Which continued to talk when not connected to the car.  It’s true what they say – some taxi drivers just won’t shut up!

Holy Self-Driving Cars, Batman!

The Batmobile has an autopilot.   Batman’s primary mode of transport has been through so many iterations I’m not even going to try to expound on its virtues.  Suffice it to say, it’s a very useful vehicle to have around.

Minority Report

The cars in Minority Report are different to the other cars here.  They were designed in concert with a whole bunch of car and futurist experts, with the aim of actually being realistic.  Washington DC, 2054, will apparently be full of computer-controlled, magnetically levitated, speeding cars, which can travel up the sides of buildings and dock on the outside of apartments rather than parking on the street.

Even the cars that travel outside of the city will be self-driving, able to wander off and park themselves, then come back for you later.

Knight Industries Two Thousand

Gotta love KITT.  Practically indestructible, highly intelligent, and capable of hacking into whatever database you like while chasing down criminals.  Poor Michael Knight seemed a little… superfluous.  The Pontiac Trans Am had more advanced programming than its predecessor, KARR, meaning that it could be relied on to be at least usually helpful.

There are so many I haven’t mentioned.  What’s your favourite self-driving car?

The Author

Nicola Higgins is a 30-something martial artist who runs two Brownie packs and works full time. She somehow still finds time to write.

Her favourite genres are near-future and alternate world science fiction and fantasy.

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