A lot has been made about the race for the self-driving car, as Tesla, the Big Three automakers, Uber and other tech giants battle to be the first to perfect autonomous driving.
Ford is promising a "fully autonomous" commercial car within five years — even beer trucks are making shipments without a human behind the wheel, using technology not too unlike Tesla's "autopilot" feature.
Yet, as far as the technology has advanced over the years, the progress can start to underwhelm the longer it drags on — at least until you realize just how far the dream has come.
A perfect example to reflect back on is the ambitious Firebird II concept car, dreamed up and built by the futurists at General Motors in 1956.
Highlighted on the latest episode of CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage," the gas turbine-powered car was the first automobile ever constructed out of titanium and offered a glimpse into what the future of driving might look like, complete with an automated driving system that was controlled by contacting an electronic strip on the highway beneath the car.