Autonomous Car Fiction

Grafitti spray painted image of an automobile, Vienna 2018.

As a transport planner I can see many advantages of self-driving (autonomous) cars, but recognize that there are still many challenges, not the least of which are social and institutional.

For example, how will people and self-driving cars deal with speed limits? I think reducing vehicle speed is crucial for increasing safety and livability (less noise and pollution) in cities. Will self-driving cars drive below the speed limit? Although I think this would be fine, it might drive people crazy? Would they turn-off the self driving feature when they want to drive faster? How would that affect the rest of the system (other cars and infrastructure) designed for all vehicles travel under the speed limit? So, lots of interesting questions to think about how self-driving cars would work in practice.

Stories are a great way to explore complicated topics like self-driving cars and especially their possible social and institutional impacts. Here are some great fiction stories about autonomous cars:

Car Wars, Cory Doctorow, 2016 … Craphound Post … currently only available on Web Archive mirror … Car Wars

Stet, Sarah Gailey, 2022 … Fireside Fiction: STET

Asleep at the Wheel, T. Coraghessan Boyle, February 2019, New Yorker … Asleep at the Wheel

Not Fiction, but good references …

The Car That Knew Too Much, Jean-François Bonnefon … excerpt: Who’s Afraid of Driverless Cars?


More to come …


Andy Nash

July 4, 2022


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