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"Does it open a new horizon for my thinking? Does it lead me to think new kinds of thoughts, that I would not otherwise perhaps have thought at all? These qualities are what [make] science fiction ...unique."
- Frederik Pohl

Automatic Navigator  
  Device steers your spaceship to its destination without additional effort from you.  

The ship until then had been flying outward blindly; it remained for him to set it on its course for Earth. He climbed his little craft over to the great chart table to the forward end of the room where were the banks of dials and the rows of colored buttons whereby the ship was controlled. A glance at a dial half as large as his ship showed a negligible amount of air outside, so he advanced thirty feet to hover like a humming bird in front of a green button with a large 3 on its face, and, feeling a lit­tle sentimental, reached out and pushed it in. Farther on he pushed in another, which would give him the ship’s maximum acceleration. Then he glided to a landing on the immense flat top of the chart table and sat down. The rest was up to the ship’s automatic navigator.

It was equal to the job. Its ultra-sensitive receivers picked up and identified every major planetary body in the solar system and sent the information through an over­lapping labyrinth of seventy-two circuits where every navigation fac­tor of location, spacial relation, planetary gravital pulls, ship’s speed and acceleration and deceleration, planetary speeds and orbits, ship’s destination, and so forth, were sec­ond by second electrically arranged and coordinated into the necessary resultant course; and it put the ship on that course, and corrected in­finitesimal strayings, and would without attention start deceleration at the proper time, and bring the ship gently to ground in a place re­served for it in Earth’s great space port at New York. All that Allison had to do, therefore, was set the buttons for destination and accelera­tion.

From A Matter of Size, by Harry Bates.
Published by Astounding Science Fiction in 1934
Additional resources -

Compare to the automatic control car from Imperial Earth (1976) by Arthur C. Clarke and the bubble car from A World Out of Time (1976) by Larry Niven.

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  More Ideas and Technology from A Matter of Size
  More Ideas and Technology by Harry Bates
  Tech news articles related to A Matter of Size
  Tech news articles related to works by Harry Bates

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