The main message about “ecosystem” is that for autonomous cars to diffuse involvement and agreement towards it will be required from more than just manufacturers and suppliers. 

In such an ecosystem interrelated “spezialized groups” will emerge and create a “point of no return” marking a milestone beyond which giving up on autonomous cars will be near to impossible (this is especially important because it is not yet 100% clear that autonomous cars will be the “next” future in transportation). Once we diffuse beyond that “point of no return” discontinuance (ceasing the usage of a technology once it has been adopted) will never lead to a market share smaller than for the manual cars unless a completely new technology comes along (e. g. flying cars 😍 like demonstrated by Google co-founder Larry Page). Furthermore, beyond that “point of no return”, that ecosystem will make abandoning the idea of autonomous cars, even if we run into several issues, very unlikely. If we encounter issues (e. g. technological feasability) the idea of an autonomous car will not be abandoned, like it happened with the first wave of autonomous cars. Rather, the involved ecosystem will keep pushing its diffusion by trying different markets or technological niches (e. g. different levels of autonomy, other countries or autonomous driving for public transportation instead of private etc.).

These specialized groups can come from various backgrounds such as business or political and in general have interest in establishing the technology at hand. I know that I will never be able to identify all the ecosystem’s parts not only due to the amount of possible players, but also because new players will emerge in the course of the AC’s diffusion. However, on the business side, for example, specialized companies might emerge that support the new technology because they want to gain financially.

Specialized business groups

Here I have already dealt with the business side and described how established companies in the automotive industry, recent joiners in automotive industry and (non-)existing companies who from outside the automotive industry will influence the AC’s diffusion.

Although the separation is not perfectly clear cut and might change over time, it makes sense to differentiate between influencers (companies which will influence the diffusion by either accelerating or slowing it down) or enablers (companies without which diffusion would be impossible) in the course of this discussion. Enablers include car manufacturers such as BMW or suppliers such as Delphi as well as the fuel infrastructure including the suppliers for that fuel. Besides these established companies there are also the new players such as Google or Tesla or companies with completely new business models such as ride and carsharing companies. Furthermore, maintenance groups such as mechanics and sources of sources of skill and knowledge such as driving schools or schools for mechanics are part of that category.

On the side of influencers we are looking at associations and clubs or completely new business such as “remote driving operator as a service” (RDOAAS; remote operators with overriding privileges for emergency situations or situations where the car is incapability of handling the driving task.).


With public I refer to society as a whole as represented by activists, people’s consenus on autonomous cars, the media or other third parties.

The public support is important because it will create a legitimization for autonomous cars. Thus, on the one side it will be culturally “ok” for companies to build autonomous cars and on the other side the use of AC will be socially accepted. The past is full of examples where people’s dissatisfaction negatively influenced a product’s diffusion, one of them is actually from the car’s fist diffusion. When the first cars started diffusing it where local residents who protested (verbally but also by blocking roads) against the car’s diffusion because it was killing people as well as their livestock (see Technological Transitions And System Innovations: A Co-evolutionary And Socio-technical Analysis for details on that story). In this context it is interesting that it is believed that self-driving cars might also be protested against by being bullied

This legitimization will stem form several third parties pushing the autonomous car. Ranging from the least influential such as private reviewers (e. g. YouTubers) to the more influential “public/offical reviewers” such as Stiftung Warentest or Consumer Reports.

The media (including news, literature, movies, ads…) is another category that is going to shape consumer’s perception (what people think autonomous cars are and what they are capable of) of autonomous cars. Depending on how autonomous cars are depicted by them it will either push or slow down the autonomous cars’ diffusion. Fear of elevators is one example depicting the media’s role here. It is namely believed that one cause of fear of elevators are films depicting accidents happening inside them. In this context it is interesting to look autonomous car’s perception in movies. It seems that it has gone from highly optimistic to “more cautionary themes” and has established itself as something „between the weird and the wonderful” where one of the topics is the fear of autonomous cars leading to a totalitarian society but also filled with a lot of optimism considering the promises of having commercially ready autonomous cars by 2020/2021 (promises which deserve a skeptical evaluation). 

One way to gain the public’s support is by framing autonomous cars as a solution to a social problem. Whereas I doubt that traffic accidents are a legitimate problem, the here mentioned integrative transport use could be on (integrative transport referes to inclusion of immobilized transport user such as blind people).

Compatibilty from societal point of view
6. cultural visions & promises: creates a legitimisation 4 working @ new tech („Is it culturally ‘ok’ 2 work on AC?“): This is also very similar to Roger’s idea of compatibility.

On the landscape level maybe the most obvious hindrance will be employment concerns. People at risk of losing their job range from cab drivers to driving instructors to mechanics.

Lower traffic accidents might be irrelevant or hindering and crime prevention is a double-edged sword

Whereas autonomous cars might prevent crimes (such as car based terrorist attacks, fleeing and robbery) they can also accelerate them (e. g. hacking) which .

Furthermore, in regards to traffic the following points make it airrelevant or hindering, albeit them creating less traffic accidents than manual cars:

  • drivers don’t care about traffic accidents because traffic accidents are infrequent.
  • society doesn’t care about traffic accidents, at least nobody is visibly complaining
  • drivers’ and society’s attitude toward traffic accidents is not expected to change as traffic accidents won’t increase because driving education and car technology keeps improving
  • autonomous cars might lead to new types of traffic accidents (system failures, accidents when the driver and the car switch driving control, car based terrorist attacks…) and adverse consequences caused by temporarily higher accident rates could slow down its diffusion

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In this context the car’s role within society will play a role (i. e. will autonomous cars, manual cars, pedestrians or all other road participants have priority number one on streets). The car’s mistakes will then be judged based on how it is perceived by society. → car > all other peopel → combine w/ here:

 — — 

The ecosystem was represented, besides the above-mentioned investors, by several other “powerful” (Geels, 2005) social groups. Somewhat ironically horse-tram companies wanted to get rid of their “expensive horses” (Geels, 2005), real estate “promoters” (Geels, 2005) were interested because tramlines increased their property’s value, electricity companies pushed the diffusion because it represented a new market (the daytime market) and policymakers saw the e-tram as a means to the end for suburbanization which was seen as a way to eliminating slums. + his two big images

Missing social problem part of Missing ecosystem

I have outlined it before, but want to reiterate it here by drawing a direct comparison the above-mentioned diffusion interest by policymakers. Today’s policymakers might push the AC as means of getting rid of inner-city traffic congestion, accidents or better access to transportation for elderly or disabled, “urbanizing villages by introducing better transportation of people and food — refere to #tbd refer to the stuff from the lady on twitter in that AC book + how the Model T changed stuffed w/ the farmers) and so on, but don’t see these issues as slums were back in the 19th century. Based on this I conclude that using these argument as a selling point for AC will only bear fruits when used alongside other factors.

#tbd refer to the stuff from the lady on twitter in that AC book.

Missing gov. support bc of missing social problem part of missing ecosystem

Interesting: the diffusion of the car was indirectly made possible by the government — due to e-tram, right? Same for today? Or will “cooperation” be enough? Especially as governments were pissed @ tram…#tbd

Many stakeholders involved

(Geels, 2005) has a graphic of these “social groups” (as he calls them) representing the groups involved in the transformation from horse-drawn carriages to cars:

Whereas it is safe to say that this situation has changed (into a more complex situation) in the years after the 1930s, this picture is good to show how complex the whole process is.

Governmental support

Generally, the government could accelerate the AC’s diffusion by enabling new the necessary laws and by “pushing” it to consumers through public endorsement. The government’s diffusion interest would be accelerated if they were to see it as a solution to a social issue, which currently is not case. Traffic accidents are often seen as a social issue to which the autonomous cars would bring a solution. Whereas this might true, I have explained here why traffic accidents are not of relevance to neither the government, the public nor individuals and probably, will never be, although it might be important that the autonomous cars will be seen as a solution to a social issue. This was namely one of the reasons why the first cars diffused. They were seen as a solution to the then prevalent problem of “overurbanization” (overcrowded and dirty cities) in form of suburbanization-enabler (with the car longer and wider distances could be overcome enabling people to live outside the city). Through this they receive support by the government.

Could stem fro: As identified by (Markus Maurer, 2016) this is a topic that people associate with autonomous cars and I think that this could (at least in theory) be one of the social topics I consider important for accelerating the autonomous cars’s diffusion through providing governments and the public a solid reason for pushing autonomous cars.

Integrative transport use, as mentioned above, could, however, be seen as a social issue the autonomous cars could be a solution to.

Also from traffic accidents + traffic jams 

in r to jams

Contribution to traffic optimization from public’s point of view
Similar to the above point, this point also deals with traffic as an innovation driver but considers the importance of public perception as essentials. This means that if the public (local residents, authorities…) starts complaining about traffic and requesting AC as a solution to that problem, the AC will be pushed because governments might, framing it politically, see it as a means to an end (the end being getting rid of trafficjams). This perspective merits consideration not only because it makes sense intuitively, but also bcause the situation was similar back when the manual and autonomous car diffused for the first time. The manual car was considered a solution to suburbanization and the fist AC (in form of a remotely controlled driverless car) emerged as a solution to increase road fatalities caused by mass motorization. → similar to china + pollution + ecars

Stuff like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Next year, the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) will begin including autonomous emergency braking in its safety ratings.

Another important independent organization is The European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP), a car safety performance assessment programme.


A truly useable self-driving car is going to have to be part of a complex ecosystem of technologies: hardware, software, automated services, and real-world support. call a guy 2 ask what the stuff in front of me is (if the car cannot move), call a special service 2 be able to repair stuff