Robot Railroading (1960)

Illustration for article titled Robot Railroading (1960)

The April 24, 1960 edition of Arthur Radebaugh's Closer Than We Think imagined a futuristic world of robot-driven trains. Looking at this image makes me think that someone could produce some pretty awesome steampunk art featuring James J. Hill and a Katrina Van Televox type robot, even though the "robots" described in this strip weren't of the humanoid variety.

Future trains will be fully automatic — robots that can regulate their own speed and control their own movements to meet the most precise schedules.

The Union Switch and Signal Division is currently working on two kinds of electronic "brains" to make this possible. One type would be a trackside "decision maker," to regulate train speed, routing, starting and stopping. The other would be a "control servo," to signal that the robot train is obeying orders — or isn't, and why. A central monitoring panel would oversee train movements for hundreds of square miles. The first such installation may be on the New York subway shuttle trains.

Next week: Lunar Power Pack

Thanks to Tom Z. for supplying the color version of this strip.

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