How Should We Drive Self-driving Vehicles? Anticipation and Collective Imagination in Planning Mobility Futures

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


Self-driving vehicle (SDV) technology, in its current foundational stage, brings about significant uncertainties, indicating a society-wide disruption. In this context, one cannot disentangle envisioning futures with SDVs from questions of (re)distribution of societal benefits and burdens. Contrastingly, the need for strategies to cope with this disruption has recently been recognized through several planning efforts. Despite their fruitfulness, missing an elaborated understanding of technology as a socio-technical phenomenon remains an underlying challenge. However, reclaiming technological futures as plannable spaces requires understanding that human ends are not well-defined or static, and that technology does not have unstoppable, unquestionable, momentum. At the central point of contention, we argue for replacing the language of unintended consequences with the language of unanticipated consequences. Furthermore, we recognize the threat of anticipation inequality if we solely rely on expert-based practices. To support divergent envisioning efforts, we propose a phase of participatory expansion of technological horizons for (un)desirable futures. To this end, we provide an example from an online discussion platform for reflective engagement about mobility futures with SDVs for a neighborhood in the Helsinki capital region. Finally, we reflect on challenges for inter-organizational learning in coping with contingencies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Governance of Smart Transportation Systems
Subtitle of host publicationTowards New Organizational Structures for the Development of Shared, Automated, Electric and Integrated Mobility
EditorsMatthias Finger, Maxime Audouin
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-96526-0
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeA3 Book section, Chapters in research books

Publication series

NameUrban Book Series


  • Automated vehicle
  • Connected vehicle
  • Technology governance
  • Transport justice
  • Transport system planning


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