Were The Ford Explorer SUVs In Jurassic Park Self-Driving Or Not?

A few weeks ago I was scrolling through Twitter when I came across a picture of one of the Ford Explorers used in the original Jurassic Park movie. Despite having seen the film a thousand times—thanks in large part to my sister’s super-fandom when we were just barely teenagers—I suddenly made out details on the front of the trucks that had never before registered.

(cue theme music)

There they were: a full set of optical sensors, pointed not at the dinosaurs above, but the ground and track below. For the very first time I realized that someone, somewhere had designed these Explorers to offer self-driving capability, or at least a version of what that might have looked like around the film’s 1993 release date.

I tweeted regarding the potential for these Explorers to drive themselves, and was immediately met with a reply from my editor at Motor Trend asking me to pitch the story idea. And so here we are: my in-depth examination of whether those famous Fords could drive themselves or not, how that technology most likely worked, and why it didn’t make it onto the screen as a plot point, all over at Motor Trend.

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