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

  • Miloš N. MladenovićEmail author
Part of the The Urban Book Series book series (UBS)


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.


Automated vehicle Connected vehicle Technology governance Transport justice Transport system planning 



This research has been supported with funding from the Academy of Finland, through Strategic Research Council project BEMINE (No. 303538), and by the Climate-KIC, through SELF-DRIVEN Areas project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Spatial Planning and Transportation Engineering, Department of Built EnvironmentAalto UniversityEspooFinland

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