How do driving behavior and practices change when new automated and digital systems are implemented in the transport sector? What are the implications for society?

Such questions will be investigated in the research project DRIVERS (Digitalization of the road sector and its consequences: the role of driving). The project is financed by the Transport 2025 program from the Norwegian Research Council. The project period is 2018 – 2022.

The project is lead by NTNU Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture, in collaboration with NTNU Department of Psychology, and collaborates with a number of key actors in the public and private divisions of the transport sector.

Development of digital and automatic technology in the transport sector is unfolding rapidly, and key actors claim that we are only  a few years away from a transport infrastructure with automated vehicles as the norm. Many pilot projects are being implemented, and new cars are able to automate tasks that until recently had to be performed by the driver. Fully automated cars have gone from being unlikely, to becoming what many think is an inevitable part of our near future. The DRIVERS project will follow this development in technology over the next four years. We are interested in documenting the immediate impact of driver development in relation to vehicle development, and the further consequences for society.

DRIVERS will study the driver role in three sectors:

  • Freight: Norway is a country that relies heavily on export, as well as on the transportation of goods over long distances in a harsh climate. This poses some particular challenges both to innovation and driver practices, which we will study in DRIVERS.
  • Public transport: Urban areas are increasingly experimenting with new forms of public transport. Automation and digitalization plays an increasingly important role, with several pilot projects underway. DRIVERS will study this development through case studies in Stavanger and Trondheim.
  • Private transport: Norwegian infrastructure has for decades catered for the individually owned gasoline vehichle as a primary mode of personal transport. DRIVERS will investigate how practices of driving are chaninging with new technologies, and the prospects for fundamentally new modes of mobility.

Through cutting edge interdisciplinary methods rooted in Science and technology studies (STS) and Psychology, we will qualitatively and quantitatively probe the role of the new technologies in society.

A key aspectof the DRIVERS project is a focus on Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). We work closely with the transport industry and public sector, both to understand potential societal consequences of the technology development and to stimulate an innovation process that both meets societal needs and contemplates potentially unexpected consequences. The goal is on the one hand to stimulate a societal and practical debate about such issues, while on the other hand providing concrete policy and innovation advice about how to reach a fair, democratic and inclusive technology develoment trajectory.

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