AV futures or futures with AVs? Bridging sociotechnical imaginaries and a multi-level perspective of autonomous vehicle visualisations in praxis

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Current depictions of autonomous vehicle (AV) futures are produced primarily by automobile manufacturers that largely reflect and reinforce existing sociotechnical systems in a ‘business as usual’ model that frames this technology within a narrative of crisis and technological salvation. This article argues for a more complex analysis of AV futures in which images are understood as vessels for sociotechnical imaginaries that direct and delimit what we think is possible in the future. Through an analytical framework incorporating automobility, transitions, and imaginaries, I explore how depictions of AVs frame the technology as responding to various system pressures over time through a comparative analysis of two actors. The analysis suggests that regime actors deploy visual discursive material as a tool of regime stability or change to benefit their own agendas. The intention of the article is not to anticipate current trajectories but is a methodological exploration of how policymakers and planners can interpret AV visualisations. Therefore, the paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of these imaginaries for future transportation systems. It further suggests that policymakers and planners need to take a more active role in the development of AV futures by paying much more attention to the latent meanings behind AV visualisations and working collaboratively with those who produce them.
Original languageEnglish
Article number68
JournalHumanities and social sciences communications
Volume8
Issue number1
Number of pages15
ISSN2055-1045
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Autonomous Vehicles
  • Sociotechnical imaginaries
  • Automobility
  • Sustainability transitions
  • Visual Discourse Analysis

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