In the 1960s I saw an animated film. Among other projected advances, there was a large machine that obliterated everything in its path by shining a road-wide beam of light ahead of it -- presumably a "heat ray" rather than a laser -- and leaving a new road behind it. My fragmented memory has a striking scene of this machine cutting through the Amazon rainforest at night, and it says much about those times that the theme was entirely one of progress, with not a thought for the environment, wildlife, or original inhabitants of the region.

UPDATE: In my original question, I evidently conflated two old memories, the other being a facetious car with concrete wheels bouncing along a rubber highway. As the sources of the two memories seem to be different, and the car with concrete wheels has definitely been found, I am splitting this part of the question off for a separate answer. Apologies!

  • 1
    Hmm. It's animatronic, not animated, and it's individual cutting beams, not a single beam, but there's a video from the General Motors Futurama exhibit at the 1964/1965 World’s Fair that shows laser tree cutting in a jungle diorama, with a large single-operation road-building machine, and in the video it appears that it might be night. – DavidW Jan 4 at 16:27
  • 1
    There was an episode of Thunderbirds which involved a road building machine similar to the one you describe - thunderbirds.fandom.com/wiki/… . There is also another Thunderbirds episode with a machine which chopped down trees to clear forests - thunderbirds.fandom.com/wiki/Path_of_Destruction. Both episodes were transmitted in the '60s – Martin Goldsack Jan 4 at 21:18
  • @DavidW, Ross Millikan: If either of you would care to describe the animatronic GM Futurama exhibit as an answer, with link, then I will gladly designate it as the answer to this question. As I mentioned earlier, I think that I conflated two childhood memories, and the other source has already been acknowledged. I attended the Futurama exhibit, along with millions of other people, in 1964 or 1965. – Invisible Trihedron Jan 7 at 1:16

If it might be animatronic instead of animated, you might be remembering the road-building machine shown in General Motors' Futurama exhibit at the 1964/1965 World’s Fair. It uses lasers to clear the jungle and a massive machine that does all the road construction. Note that it's not a massive heat beam (à la War of the Worlds), but directed cutting lasers.

You can see the diorama showing the jungle clearing and road building at 3:52 in this video of the ride:

The lighting makes it appear as though it's night, and because it's animatronic, it's in motion as though it were working.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.