Design workshop and white paper publication on the future of autonomous mobility

with Fondazione Giannino Bassetti, Francesco Samorè and Giulio Ceppi for Politecnico di Milano. 2017

The design workshop

What happens when you put Responsible Innovation at the center of the upcoming autonomous mobility revolution? To find out the Bassetti Foundation asked me to create and run a workshop inside Self Driving Society @2030, the Final Synthesis Studio at the Master in Integrated Product Design of Politecnico di Milano, coordinated by professor Giulio Ceppi.

Embedding Responsible Innovation in the design practice is always a big challenge, especially during a one week workshop. We created a format and some tools specifically planned to help students combine responsibility topics with design requirements. This format, along with a week of frontal lectures, brainstormings and project reviews, eventually produced 44 concepts and visions for the responsible development of the future society living in a world permeated by autonomous mobility technologies. Combining conventional design disciplines and policy making concerns, students succeeded in developing projects which tackled complex issues on the social impact of this technology innovation and which represented also plausible future businesses’ ideas.

The Responsibility Matrix for the Self-Driving Society

The Responsibility Matrix for the Self-Driving Society, a tool that combines design requirements with responsibility topics and aims at helping designers, policymakers and other relevant stakeholders in shaping the future of a society immersed in autonomous transportation systems.

The Collingridge Positioning

The Collingridge Positioning. A tool to help innovators reflect on how to calibrate their intervention, according to the degree of diffusion of a certain technology (in this case autonomous mobility systems). Based on the so called Collingdridge Dilemma, theorized by David Collingridge in 1980: “When change is easy, the need for it cannot be foreseen; when the need for change is apparent, change has become expensive, difficult and time consuming.”

The delivery format

The format: 1.1 design a future newspaper article identifying a responsibility issue, 1.2 analyze and describe the overall problem, 2.1 map the solution using the Responsibility Matrix 2.2 articulate and visualize the concept

Download the Responsibility Matrix and the Collingridge Positioning and use it freely under Creative Commons license

The Outputs

Visualization of some projects developed by the students

Moments of the workshop

1,2: Fabio Besti presenting the workshop to the class; 3: Francesco Samorè during the first revisions with students; 4: Giulio Ceppi, course coordinator; 5,6: F. Samorè and F. Besti during the second round of revisions; 7,8: Tommaso Gecchelin, Founder and CTO of Next Future Transportation inc., presents the company and gives a lecture on the future of mobility

The visual identity


Typography and graphic elements

The typography selection juxtaposes Proxima Nova and Roboto Slab to create a flexible system. 

Illustrations and colorized images

The white paper

Responsibility Driven Design for the Future Self-Driving Society

The compelling results of the workshop confirmed to us the value of this approach that we defined responsibility-driven design

and led us to write and publish a white paper with the aim of engaging all the stakeholders involved in this imminent technological transition.

Mobility automation, in fact, will not only have an impact on the transportation industry itself, it will lead to the transformation of the socio-cultural fabric of countries all over the world: habits and behavior will change, new products and services will improve people’s lifestyles, cities will be reshaped and, above all, society will transform itself in its complexity.

The focus shifts from the self-driving car to the self-driving society, indeed.

The white paper implicitly covers both innovation opportunities and innovation responsibilities, the two main areas to emerge from the analysis of the self-driving society. How can these two (often but wrongly identified as opposite) aspects of innovation be integrated?

Building upon the experience gained in the university, this work proposes the discipline of design and its methodologies as key tools to responsibly define and build a future society immersed in automated mobility systems.

Download the white paper here.

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