Steering disruption: a backcasting approach to govern the spatial impacts of the diffusion of automated vehicles in Turin

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The diffusion of autonomous vehicles (AVs) is expected to increase rapidly in the next decades and its impacts can be potentially disruptive. To date, scientific literature on AVs mostly focused on technological innovation, safety issues, ethical dilemmas and normative aspects. A growing number of studies also addressed social aspects and potential demand for AVs. While at first less attention has been given to spatial and territorial impacts that AVs will determine, and on the need to govern their diffusion, concerns and literature on these issues are rapidly growing. Assuming the governance of AVs diffusion as a key aspect to limit their possible negative impacts on urban public space, this paper draws on the preliminary results of a research project led by Politecnico di Torino. The project adopts a backasting approach that considers how circulation and parking of AVs should be differently regulated in various parts of the city. The paper highlights how defining future visions of AV regulation for these backcasting exercises raises issues and questions, that are relevant for implementing policies to control AV impacts on urban public spaces.
autonomous vehicles, visioning, backcasting