The self-driving car is on its way, but just what do we mean by ‘self-driving’? Are we talking about autonomous robot cars or cooperative cars? This study aims to clarify the different innovation approaches of the self-driving car.
The Dutch government has been promoting cooperative cars for several years. Because they can drive in platoons, they are expected to contribute to road safety as well as reducing congestion and environmental pollution. Recently, robot cars have become more important in Dutch policymaking. But because platooning is not possible with robot cars, their contribution to reducing congestion and cleaner mobility is limited.
This study aims to clarify the different innovation approaches of the self-driving car. It shows that the two approaches – cooperative systems and autonomous robot cars - raise different governance issues and social questions. To benefit from previous investments and achieve Dutch policy goals, the Netherlands should aim for convergence, and integrate the robot car with the existing approach towards cooperative systems. On the one hand, that requires robot cars that fit in with the cooperative communication structure. On the other, it means that cooperative systems should be made more effective by using the smart technology of robot cars.
Timmer J., B. Pel, L. Kool, R. van Est & F. Brom, Converging roads - Linking self-driving cars to public goals. The Hague, Rathenau Instituut 2015