In recent years, the autonomous driverless car has gone from technological pipe-dream to very real prospect. Google has started developing prototypes, with hopes to make them widely available by 2020, while LUTZ Pathfinder ‘driverless pods’ are being tested in Milton Keynes. For the twentieth century, the car was the ultimate symbol of freedom: having control over one’s own mobility remains a powerful cultural hallmark of independence and adulthood. For some, the automated car seems the antithesis to that yearning for independence and freedom, but others counter that it represents liberation from the tedium of traffic – not to mention increased independence for those currently unable to drive themselves. What are the implications of driverless cars for the transport of the future and what does their emergence reveal about our attitudes to autonomy?
The speakers are Nicole Agba, 2014 winner of Autocar Next Generation Award; Susan Grant-Muller, professor of technologies and informatics, Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds; Chris Moody, chief business development officer, Transport Systems Catapult; Dr Paul Reeves, engineering software designer, SolidWorks R&D; Jason Walsh, journalist and foreign correspondent, CS Monitor. The chair is Austin Williams, associate professor in architecture, XJTLU University, Suzhou, director, Future Cities Project.