Rethinking engagement in urban design: reimagining the value of co-design and participation at every stage of planning for autonomous vehicles

Daria Belkouri, Lina Khairy, Richard Laing*, Ditte Bendix Lanng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose: The practical demonstrations and research which led to the preparation of this paper involved a combination of stakeholder engagement, policy debate and the practical demonstration and testing of autonomous vehicles. By adhering to a design approach which in centred on participation and human-centred engagement, the advent of autonomous vehicles might avoid many of the problems encountered in relation to conventional transport. Design/methodology/approach: The research explored how a new and potentially disruptive technology might be incorporated in urban settings, through the lens of participation and problem-based design. The research critically reviews key strands in the literature (autonomous vehicles, social research and participatory design), with allusion to current case study experiments. Findings: Although there are numerous examples of autonomous vehicles (AV) research concentrating on technical aspects alone, this paper finds that such an approach appears to be an unusual starting point for the design of innovative technology. That is, AVs would appear to hold the potential to be genuinely disruptive in terms of innovation, yet the way that disruption takes place should surely be guided by design principles and by issues and problems encountered by potential users. Practical implications: The research carries significant implications for practice in that it advocates locating those socio-contextual issues at the heart of the problem definition and design process and ahead of technical solutions. Originality/value: What sets this research apart from other studies concerning AVs was that the starting point for investigation was the framing of AVs within contexts and scenarios leading to the emergence of wicked problems. This begins with a research position where the potential uses for AVs are considered in a social context, within which the problems and issues to be solved become the starting point for design at a fundamental level.

Original languageEnglish
Early online date2 Aug 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Aug 2023

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