It’s the end of the car as we know it

The transformational impact of autonomous cars

Authored by: Anna-Lena Berscheid

The Routledge Companion to Automobile Heritage, Culture, and Preservation

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  December  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138389434
eBook ISBN: 9780429423918
Adobe ISBN:


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Since its invention, the automobile has become not only the most important means of individual transportation but also, according to the late John Urry, a crucial feature of what makes a good life. Simultaneously, the automobile is threatening this good life as a primary contributor to global pollution, fatal accidents, and the consumption of resources. Recently, the German Advisory Council on Global Change, among other groups of scientists and engineers, has been rethinking automobility through transformative research in order to face great societal challenges such as climate change, human overpopulation, and scarce resources. One promising technological fix to address some of these challenges is the self-driving automobile. In the near future, the human driver (the main cause of fatal accidents) will be replaced by a computer in order to make traffic safer, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and reduce fuel consumption. One of the driving forces behind the development of self-driving automobiles are claims that accommodations can be made for the bodily or mentally impaired, as well as the elderly and minors. 1

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