The emergence of autonomous cars in niches

When talking about niches it is important to get the extend of the autonomous car’s advantages right. For example, I have explained here ( how autonomous cars will make package delivery cheaper by eliminating drivers. This advantage, however, will only be visible once we have fully autonomous cars. In the beginning of its diffusion this is obviously not the case which means that this relative advantage doesn’t exist yet and thus cannot pose a selling point for the autonomous car’s diffusion. This being said, the following already available advantages will pose a selling point for the autonomous car’s diffusion:

Yara’s, a Norwegian chemical company, plan for the introduction of an all-electric autonomous container ship, is a great analogy for how the autonomous car will diffuse. In 2018 they want to start with a fully crewed ship on a specific route, which in 2019 will be remotely controlled by 2019 and eventually fully autonomous in 2020 (

The incremental introduction seems to be a two-sided sword. On the one side a mixed mode of operation consisting of manual and autonomous cars will be more complex than a purely autonomous mode of operation. On the other side incremental introduction will provide more opportunity for learning. In other words, incremental introduction of autonomous cars by building upon driving assistants (e. g. breaking assistant) or successive levels of autonomoy [3] would then some like a “natural development along the incremental path of technological advancement”.

The perfect niche has to be perfect in for autonomous cars as well as consumers. For autonomous cars a controllable environment will be of biggest importance. From the consumers’ perspective the perfect niche will evolve alongside the following categories:

  1. High relative advantage: autonomous cars have to be perceived by consumers as better than the previous technology
  2. Compatibility: For consumer autonomous cars must not be too different from what they know, they have to be compatible with their current world.
  3. Complexity: However autonomous cars are deployed consumers’ adoption will be better if they understand it
  4. Trialability: Consumers must have the chance to use the product on a trial bases before committing long time
  5. Observability: Before committing long time consumers’ adoption would be accelerated if they could observe the technology first before using it themselves [2]

Possible niches

Most probably first in industry, using > ownig

Passive driving car users → link to “How consumers’ perception of autonomous cars will influence their adoption”

Today, the purpose of cars can be broadly separated into active and passive driving. Active driving refers to cars which people drive themselves and use for activities such as “pleasure driving” (e. g. cruising) or transportation of goods. This category represents the majority of today available cars.

Passive driving refers to being driven and using the car for work, relaxation and similar. In that use case cars are a third place between the home and the office and are mostly exclusive to “people with money”.

Executive right rear seats feature in a Mercedes S600 (Source) that make turn the car into third space for sleeping

In the autonomous car future such third spaces could become the dominant design amongst cars. For example, Daimler, Volkswagen and Chrysler see this as the future of autonomous cars.

Whereas Daimler sees the autonomous cars as place for work, for Volkswagen it is just a place for transportation and Chrysler believes that consumers will want to use the car as a social hub focusing on virtual and real-life human interaction.

The Mercedes F 015 as a mobile office (Source)
The Volkswagen SEDRIC with a couch-like seating (Source)
The Chrysler Portal is modular car with focus on virtual and real-life human interaction (Source)

It seems to me that Mercedes’ idea of increased efficiency and more productive use of driving time is the most common type of “third space” mentioned in the discussion around manual cars. However, considering that some drivers consider time spent in a car as a “gift” because it gives them time to relax from work and to transition from “work-mode” to “home-mode” [8], framing the autonomous cars as an enabler for a more productive life could actually backfire. Consider the following two quotes from a female and male participant in regards to a future with fully autonomous vehicles [10]:

And private life and working life are mixing more and more and you become a total workaholic.
This strain of having to do more and more things in the same place at the same time is increasing.

New in-car activities will undoubtedly necessary when cars take over driving as else drivers would get bored. 

This shift, however, hints at the potential of the passive driving car users as the entry niche for the autonomous car’s diffusion. For them, autonomous cars would not be much different from how they perceive cars today. In other words, autonomous cars would be compatible (see “Compatibility” below) with their current expectations.

Within this gain the loss of driving requires one more question, namely its significance to drivers on a macro scale. Driving is sometimes more than just getting from A to B. It encompasses a range of emotions such as freedom, frustration, panic, excitement or joy (see quote below).

The very act of driving conjures a range of strong and very human emotions. Whether it is the feeling of freedom that the mobility of the car provides, the frustration of being stuck in traffic, the panic when realizing a potential collision looms or the joy of an open road with a favorite song on the radio, driving is a human experience. — J. Christian Geredes

With autonomous cars we are taking that away and giving people joy, relaxation and stress (from working in the car) bit little to no freedom or excitement. Whereas on the one side it seems that some people have more interesting activities than driving (e. g. texting) some see it as entertaining: (see quotes below) .

Driving distracts from other activities:

“Regulation keeps trying to say texting is distracting to driving but for the consumer it is really the driving that is distracting to texting” — Third Annual Deloitte Automotive Generation Y Survey

Driving is engaging

“That’s actually a nice thing about driving, that you have to concentrate on it in the moment and you also do something with your hands, and you precisely aren’t already checking emails from work. That starts when you’re sat at your desk.”

I am not sure if such in-car entertainment can adequately compensate for the lack of freedom or excitement. If not, we will need something to compensate for that lack of freedom or excitement (might not be relevant for autonomous cars with an option for manual driving). On the one side this can stem from new autonomous car practices (such as hacking) or, and here I am again looking at the autonomous car as part of a socio-technical system, from outside the car. The simplest example would be more and new time spent on recreational activities such as exercising. In this context, more sport would additionally be enabled by more suitable cities caused by the autonomous cars’ diffusion.

All this being said, one must be careful to not interpret the future technology (autonomous cars) too much based on the standars of the old technology (manual cars). The iPhone is a brilliant example for this backward-looking trap. Consider how the reviews below (taken from here) misjudged the iPhone’s potential by evaluating it alongside characteristics from the old traditional cellphone.

That virtual keyboard will be about as useful for tapping out emails and text messages as a rotary phone. Don’t be surprised if a sizable contingent of iPhone buyers express some remorse at ditching their BlackBerry when they spend an extra hour each day pumping out emails on the road. — TechCrunch

Apple’s iPhone combines a phone, music and video player with web and email capabilities, but researchers found demand for these converged devices was lowest in affluent countries. — The Guardian

Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone…The problem here is that while Apple can play the fashion game as well as any company, there is no evidence that it can play it fast enough. These phones go in and out of style so fast that unless Apple has half a dozen variants in the pipeline, its phone, even if immediately successful, will be passé within 3 months. — John C. Dvorak

In analogy to autonomous and manual cars this means that I might be dead wrong when I say that driving will be a relevant car characteristics in the future after all.

Autonomous cars as self-driving on demand owned taxis (no driving, no ownership)

Finally, autonomous cars are enablers of individual, on-demand, door-to-door transportation without car ownership or the need to drive. Driverless taxis would enable people to get directly to any place at any time with full control over the driving experience without actually owning a car or having to drive. However, ride- and carsharing can be interpreted as competing technologies to autonomous cars because they are conceptually the same.

In this scenario nobody would own or drive cars but be able to profit from its advantages (individual, on-demand, door-to-door transportation) provided by on-demand usable self-driving taxis.

Similar to above, the loss of ownership has to evaluated on a macro scale. Owning a car is sometimes more than just “owning a product” it is also a status symbol. If, the importance of cars as a status symbol stays in the future, on-demand taxis have little chance of diffusing. A study published by McKinsey, shows that this might actually be the case. They found that more than two thirds of all 18- to 39-year olds will own a car in ten years (the number fall to 60 percent for 40- to 69-year olds). Furthermore, only 8% of people believe that alternative luxury goods to the car (such as smartphones) can give them more “more esteem” than cars themselves.

Furthermore, the introductory survey shows that readiness for vehicle on demand is low amongst consumers.

Mostly people cannot imagine replacing their current preferred mode of transportation with on demand taxis

If, however, we (and they survey participants) are basing our pereceptions too much on the standars of the old technology (manual cars where car ownership has high relevance) then on-demand self-driving taxis could have a great chance for diffusing. In this scenario alternatives source of status would be necessary to enable or support the shift towards that future.

The trend towards cars as a “third space” would be push against the trend of no ownership.

Reasons why that might not be the first niche:

  • tbd

 → If not the first niche, it could be the first commercial after amusement parks.

Land and


- No significant cost reduction because the driver will still have to be present

Sea transportation



- Little uncertainty in the environment: there is not much uncertainty and if so it can be controlled

Grocery delivery


- Unfamiliarity; people have to deal with machines

- Complexity: uncertainty on roads and accessibility of buildings



- They are not that disruptive here; Less technological investments necessary for the company and less learning and customization required by the workers because warehouses are already very automated.

  • Controlled environment: there is not much uncertainty and if so it can be controlled

Sem-public transportation (autonomous taxis)

In the beginning autonomous cars could only be used for sem-public transportation in defined geographical areas.

- Unfamiliarity; people have to deal with machines

Public transportation


- Unfamiliarity; people have to deal with machines

However, “Gen Y” might not be so ok with driving at all: “Regulation keeps trying to say texting is distracting to driving but for the consumer it is really the driving that is distracting to texting” (Markus Maurer, 2016). This leads me to the consideration that using AC to get rid of commuting might not be the best idea after all.

see (Rupp & King, 2010) @ 2.4 for techn. Progress in r 2 tech. + link that 2 niches: niches will emerge alongside the techn. Possibilities.

“Until we have proven sufficiently reliable machine automation in a highly complex, continuously varying, unpredictable environment, one filled with both human and autonomous agents, the approach should be to keep the driver in the loop, as well as in the driver’s seat” (Rupp & King, 2010).

The approach that makes most sense is to introduce AC technology gradually due to technological difficulties (Rupp & King, 2010).

Will they slower than MC in the beginning? à Disruptive Innovation

“Until we have proven sufficiently reliable machine automation in a highly complex, continuously varying, unpredictable environment, one filled with both human and autonomous agents, the approach should be to keep the driver in the loop, as well as in the driver’s seat” (Rupp & King, 2010).

If incremental introduction (level 2/3 autonomy) not possible bc:

- (manual and autonomous driving) might not be the best idea (because that half-developed technology might be more annoying that useful).

- Stuff @ How and which technology might influence the autonomous cars’…

How will we introduce it? Big bang bc tech. + getting used + etc. difficult (but that would be “natural” intro; innovators, eraly market …) à through public or theme parks

- “The driver has legal responsibility for control of the vehicle and must have the ability to override the system by adding or subtracting steering input, applying the brake or adding throttle. He will have the ability to request or make certain maneuvers (e.g. initiate a lane change), and may be requested to confirm appropriateness and acceptance of a system recommended maneuver.” (Rupp & King, 2010). à mixed mode of operation might be required due to legal reasons

Niche development from the driver’s perspective

The operator

Changing from (1) fully responsible driver to a (2) driver supported by artificial technology (e. g. line keeping assistants) to (3) artificial technology monitored by the driver to a (4) fully responsible car with or without a manual driving mode.

We are currently in stage two driver supported by artificial technology (at least for some cars) and theoretically on the transition to stage three (artificial technology monitored by the driver). Theoretically insofar, because driving in such a “half engaged” mode where the driver has to take over control from the car (a so called hand-off) might cause more accidents than it prevents. This is due to two reasons. Firstly, the car has to be capable of recognizing every hand-off worthy situation. Secondly, the driver’s time required to take over control might take longer than what it takes for the accident to happen (realizing that the car is signaling the need for a hand-off, assessing the situation, preparing to handle it…). Also, the longer the switching time the quicker the earlier the car has to be able to recognize or predict a potential hand-off requiring situation). The driver’s attention is, by the way, further derailed by “overtrust”, meaning that humans might tend to overestimate the car’s driving capability. The scientific term for this phenomena is vigilance decrement which describes that humans’ vigilancy decreased when doing observational tasks like continusoly monitoring a radar. Observing a car’s driving over a longer period of time without anything happening is an analogy to that. In the video below Gill Pratt, CEO of the Toyota Research Institute, demonstrates the so called Mackworth Clock-Test which aimes at demonstrating the vigilance decrement. With the challenges such a driving setting (equaling level 2 and 3 autonomy) entails it becomes clear that the “car of the future” will be required to capture more situational awareness (which cars are where around me, what is the speed limit, what is the car trying to do, what are other road participants — drivers, pedestrians — doing or intending to do…) and also it will be required to adequately (human-machine interaction) and timely communicate that information to the driver. One topic here is hand-off transitions: ” During hand-off transitions, the driver will be expected to maintain vigilance and readiness to take control of the vehicle and will need to be supported in doing so. To accomplish this, the Human Machine Interface (HMI) must evolve from the current set of least/latest credible/imminent hazard warnings intended to minimize nuisance alarms, to providing more immersive situational awareness throughout the driving” (Rupp & King, 2010).

In this context (Rupp & King, 2010) rename the driver to “operator” meaning that the driver’s task will be more strategic (e. g. where to go and which to road to choose) than tactical (e. g. which lane or gear to choose). Another thing that might slow down diffusion is in this context it that we might need new types of driver licences or significantly differen content for the exams for drivers, for example, for the usage of higly advanced AC technology or eventually the AC (Rupp & King, 2010). “The question is no longer ‘who is liable when there are car accidents?’ but rather ‘who will still be allowed to drive manually?’” (Markus Maurer, 2016)

The other type of role change is a “take-over” where the driver overrides the AC. This situation entails firstly the question of what would happen if the AC realizes that the driver shouldn’t take over, for example, due to tiredness (disable manual driving, let the driver take over and potentially cause an accident…)? Secondly, what would the consequences of “wrong” or false involvement from the car be? “With this limited approach, most performance errors merely result in annoyance” (Rupp & King, 2010). What happens if the AC makes a wrong move and creates a decision that wouldn’t have happened otherwise? What if the driver overrides the AC and makes an accident? What if the AC overrides the driver and makes an error?

What if we find out that that the AC should be favoured in such legal battles? Something similar happened in the course of the transformation from horse-drawn carriages to cars (car > all other pedestrians). How will people deal with it? How can we prove AC to be better drivers? Apparently we cannot: “show that fully autonomous vehicles would have to be driven hundreds of millions of miles and sometimes hundreds of billions of miles to demonstrate their reliability in terms of fatalities and injuries”


planes @ war were either fuel efficient || had rapid acceleration à what will AC be Daimler frames it car as mobile office (see interior below), Toyota focuses on a “KITT” like car where the car and driver are “teammates” (I have analyzed their concept in more detail here but only in German) and for Chrysler the car of the future is modular car with focus on virtual and real-life human interaction (see the interior on the picture below; I have analyzed their concept in more detail as well but again only in German). In regards to BMW I am not 100% sure what their AC represents but it for most it seems like the are sticking with their “driving pleasure” slogan (original phrase: Freude am Fahren).? See: How and which technology might influence the autonomous cars’s adoption

Mechanisms in phase two: Specialization and Take-off of new technologies

7. new tech might break out of their niches by linking up w/ growth @ other niches: here one tech which is still in a niche can profit from the growth of demand in another niches bc it increases overall demand of the technology

Mechanisms in phase One: Emergence of novelties in niches

2. spatial & geographical diffusion: if an innovation fails in one country it might succeed in another

I think the first AC will diffuse as…

This is important because when the first car diffused it was considered a societal car, an urban car and a tool until it diffused as all-purpose vehicle.

In regards to who will adopt them look @ (Rupp & King, 2010) 6.0 ff 4 them (Hobbyist etc.) J L

AC in the context of the overall mobility industry (as opposed to just the automobile industry).

„taking careful evolutionary steps, rather than one revolutionary leap“ (Rupp & King, 2010)

“The driver should have the responsibility to engage the Full Driver Assist feature in a manner similar to how Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) is currently engaged; by selecting certain operating parameters such as headway and vehicle speed.” (Rupp & King, 2010) + “will ppl. know what the car is doing + will do next + → co-evolution of tech”

I think (Rupp & King, 2010) are right when they say: “Until we have proven sufficiently reliable machine automation in a highly complex, continuously varying, unpredictable environment, one filled with both human and autonomous agents, the approach should be to keep the driver in the loop, as well as in the driver’s seat” (Rupp & King, 2010).

Reread that part in the paper (Rupp & King, 2010)

Make it based on use cases from (Rupp & King, 2010). Makes sense because here technology goes hand in hand with the niches where it can be applied.

Use Case 1.0 — Advisory and Warning

The system provides the driver with information of advisory and warning nature (e. g. warning of speed limits or a potential pile-up) but cannot influence the driving.

Use Case 2.0 — Emergency Control

Here the car, either in autonomous or manual driving mode, will intervene to prevent an accident if the driver doesn’t act appropriately.

Use Case 3.0 — Steady State Control

AD (autonomous driving) limited time provided the driver enables it.

Issue: hand-offs between driver and car

Limited only to roads the car has been on and approved as “ready for self-driving” + only on specific AD-roads + and be in a teacher-student relationship with the driver:

“The system may still ask the driver for confirmation, possibly having started a conversation with the driver via SYNC®, “Of the standard options (provide list) which would you like?”, and extend to “I recommend changing lanes, shall I go ahead and do that for you?” or “Do you concur that it’s ok to change lanes now?” (Rupp & King, 2010). à cool + what if car changes + driver has no idea why

à AC wird am Anfang sein wie Fahrschüler<>Fahrlehrer

aber nach deren Theorie kann man dem Auto dann ja auch falsche Dinge beibringen → so funzt ja ATTENTION ASSIST (

ATTENTION ASSIST mit 2 Mio. gefahrenen KM gebaut, braucht aber tzd. Fahrprofil

from technology standpoint good entry point = stuff w/ little change etc. (see above) + roads which the car already visited

look @ the list in (Rupp & King, 2010) on PDF-page 12 4 the overview of CADS stuff

Additional extensions of this use case can include auto-park, latch, and platooning functionality.

Autopark is where the driver and passenger depart the vehicle and engage an autonomous valet parking routine in a known infrastructure space with administratively restricted access for pedestrians, etc. Latch is where a vehicle strictly follows a selected forward vehicle at a standard following distance, initially at a low speed (e.g. TJA), then gradually at higher speeds. Platooning, the automatic following of a ‘certified’ lead vehicle, such as a commercial bus or truck, is further enabled by V2V communication with and between the lead and following vehicles, characterized by latch functionality and close quarters/shortened following distance for fuel economy benefits.

Use Case 4.0 — Transitional Control

In addition to being able the situations described above, this use case entails that the car is capable of driving in “challenging traffic” (Rupp & King, 2010).

Use Case 5.0 — Revisiting Known Destinations and Routes

The car can now drive on all roads (not only on AD-specific) but still only roads it has been on before

Use Case X.0 — Traversing Unknown Routes and the General Case

Includes also roads the car hasn’t been on, all intersections etc. (Rupp & King, 2010)

e. g. braking != possible à OK 2 change lanes? || 2 change on non-driving roads like road shoulder (Rupp & King, 2010)

warnings will be replaced by “earlier” warnings + car will be giving recommendations (don’t do X do y) + make requests (what should I do? Which option do you want? OK 4 me 2 change lanes…) (Rupp & King, 2010)

+ all weather/road conditions, all types of roads (countryside, tundra…)

Diffusion important for poor people:

“These spin-offs cannot be limited to only the latest and greatest technology implementations. They must also include low cost solutions that can be implemented on lower cost vehicles for global implementation. ?” (Rupp & King, 2010) + “does the stuff really need 2 be cheap in the beginning”

For what are we using cars (Rupp & King, 2010) + find own things

- Commuting — not funny (which other things are not funny?)

- Social/recreational travel (visiting gyms, going on vacation, movies, theaters, parks, museums, visiting friends/relatives)

What do drivers want (from cars/transportation/mobility solution):

- (Rupp & King, 2010):

o a utilitarian appliance that moves them from door-to-door on their terms; they want to be more effective in the driving process, and they want luxury comforts. They use descriptors such as ‘productive’, ‘efficient’, ‘relaxing’ and ‘personalized’. An autonomous transportation device with independent supervisory control would fit the bill, but they also want the ability to drive the enjoyable drives which may add excitement and enhance a sense of freedom. A successful vehicle will likely need to seamlessly blend full assist and fully manual modes of operation and probably everything in between to satisfy consumer needs, expectations, desires, and values. à ||: ppl’s needs change over time || we establish new needs 2 satisfy them

- Generalize based on landscape

Diffusion AC as delivery cars, for picking up kids and similar might not be fruitful because we already have services for that in place (delivery companies, buses, carpools, taxis…) (Rupp & King, 2010) à interesting argument.

However, autonomous taxis could be extremely interesting for Uber and similar.

à no driverless but self-driving car ( (Rupp & King, 2010))

“Recall the first mainframe computer, first PCs, the first PDA, and then the first cell phones. These devices were going to make our jobs and lives easier. And they have — not by doing work for us as originally thought, but by helping us work more efficiently” (Rupp & King, 2010). àSimilarly, the advent of autonomous technologies in vehicles will result in drivers that are more engaged in some aspects of the driving process rather than further removed, providing them with greater capability in managing the overall process. The driver would now be much more akin to the captain of the ship, biased toward the tactical, strategic, interactive, and predictive roles while leaving the role of the helmsman, lookout, navigator, and even quartermaster to the vehicle systems (Rupp & King, 2010).

It has started with advisory, warning, to partly involvement to full control see @ (Rupp & King, 2010) @ 2.2 for details (The majority of today’s situation asse…–)

Two ways to think of AC: human-like, just autonomous, if the 1st à Siri, if the 2nd à trust high enough?

What will happen with the manually operated cars? Will they find themselves a new niche? → 3rd world countries

depending on their domain: @ high-ways (e. g. trucks) they can be relatively dumpb

taxis = super smart

a line buses = rather dumb

Is Tesla 3 really mass market? poor kids: no innovators, no money…

Question: should IMHO there are at least two ways 2 look @ diffusion of self-driving cars: the tech within self-driving cars (KA was; more a B2B perspective) & the diffusion of AC 2 ppl. (B2C). Latter only possible after 1st.

Dritter AC era: keine wahlweise Autonomie (2, era) sondern gänzlich (mögliche ?)

Look @ drone from FB (maybe co-evolution)

Focusing on passenger transportation (other categories such as freight could, however, support the diffusion of urban AC transportation) in urban/suburban/outter-urban/inter-urban setting.

three stages: AC w/ drivers present, AC w/ drivers half-presen, AC w/o drivers present

1st SDC either 4 rich kids (like racing/touring in early days) 4 business/fun/2 be cool & slightly later 4 poor kids (like farmers in early days) 2 get stuff done (prevent isolation…)

transition from manually driven cars to self-driving cars won’t be immediate.

The system of mass production originated, by the way, at the Ford Motor Company. One consequence of mass production was that it enabled Ford to produce the Model T at continuously lower prices.

Considering that based on today’s technology will cost six figures (

<amusement park niches>

The (success #tbd if really a success) of the racing niche (see somewhere eles) is a fair analogy to the diffusion of cars in the “amusement park” niche.

maybe write focused on the olli company & try to contact some dudes from there

Market niches

If you look at emerging regions such as India, forget self driving cars, even gearless automatic transmission cars are not so common. It’s only recently Maruti Suzuki has launched Celerio with automatic transmission and is selling well in the market. Maruti Suzuki is also bringing automatic transmission gearless Alto K10 in November 2014. Whereas in markets such as US and Europe, automatic transmission is popular quite sometime back. So the self driving cars in emerging markets going to be much more expensive and delayed in launching. → Model T stuff

Will there be different kinds of AC? E-AC, gas-EC …? Maybe look @ all concepts + existing self-driving cars “What’s further interesting is that technological competition arose in this niche due to is popularity” (e-cars vs. steam vs. gasolikng) how will this look like today? What will compete against what?

Will there be different kinds of AC? E-AC, gas-EC …? Maybe look @ all concepts + existing self-driving cars “What’s further interesting is that technological competition arose in this niche due to is popularity” (e-cars vs. steam vs. gasolikng) how will this look like today? What will compete against what?

The establishing of the dominant design in form of the Model T allowed manufacturers to proceed innovating on other areas of the cars. One area of focus became the difficult starting issue which was eventually solved via an electric starter.

 → @ which stage are we right now? & what will the dominant design be with AC?

one way to look at it: “the autonomous car is going to be the dominant design for vehicles in the future.”

Amusement parks niche

I think that for the first niche (Markus Maurer, 2016) mention of the diffusion within areas such as amusement parks is an extremely interesting idea. Interesting in the sense that it makes a lot of sense.

It seems to me that in most cases companies are promoting AC as (#AC’s advantages,#advantagesOfAC )

- safer than existing cars

- more environment friendly than existing cars

- a means for less congestions and

- a more comfortable riding experience than existing cars

- enabling mobility to disabled people

Whereas I think that this makes perfect sense I think that they are not perfectly appealing to consumers as a “diffusion argument” because they are not that relevant to consumers (e. g. to perceive the need of a safer car you would have to go through an accident first hand to demand safer transportation and even than I am not sure if you would demand something as radical as AC. This argument is, of course, only valid for the “average citizen” who is not politically or in any other way involved in public safety), their consequences are not (immediately) visible — missing Roger’s “observability” (e. g. people have to imagine how it would be to commute completely hands- and carefree or they have to do this in a future scenario where they have to imagine all the cars driving autonomously). Furthermore, they are simply not compatible with people’s current attitude towards driving, at least for some people in some cases (It fits with how people perceive cars nowadays: fun à #tbd @ book).

Based on this, I — repeatedly argue — that in order for cars to diffuse we would either neither some really troubling environmental issue(s) that the AC can solve or a set of significant — ten times better — relative advantages.

Until then I think that one promising niche would be one where the AC could be framed as something exciting. This video made by Google showing people’s excitement when being driven in one of Google’s autonomous cars demonstrate — admittedly on a non-scientific — to potential of framing the AC in terms of something exciting (we can see parallels in the cars’ history). Therefore, amusement parks would be, from my point of view, a great niche.

However, as Alain Kornhauser pointed out, these driverless shuttles might — due to their low speed (five to ten mph) — as well be perceived as boring by the passengers.

However² , I think that John Frost rises a legitimate point when he argues — as quote by the Los Angeles Times — that Driverless vehicles “would make transportation at Disney World cool again,” columnist John Frost wrote on the Disney Blog in 2013.

Walt Disney World is supposedly going to launch something of that kind. It is rumoured that the company wants to use driverless shuttles for driving their visitors through parking lots and around their theme parks by next year in Florida.

Amongst other things driverless shuttles — or public forms of driverless transportation — possibly constrained to theme parks and the like would be a good entry niche. One advantage is its observability (priming users, showing the public that driverless vehicles work…).

From my point of view people won’t be afraid because they are already familiar with driverless — but not “infrastructureless” — technology from other areas. One example is the gondola lift. In regards to this I don’t think that the similarities between “olli” a driverless shuttle made by local motors are accidental. This is what (Geels, 2005) calls fit-fit strategy.

Furthermore, they are also similar from a technological standpoint. Both are driverless in the sense that you do not need a local driver although there might certainly by a remote driver for monitoring the vehicles and possibly intervening if necessary. They are, of course, different in the sense that a gondola is guided by cables whereas the olli is completely autonomous. The fact that there are three monorails at Walt Disney World is additionally advantageous for the AC’s diffusion there because they feel autonomous — you barely every see the driver. Admittedly I am not sure if this analogy — feeling autonomous — and knowing that is autonomous are perceived as similar by consumers as I presume. Nevertheless, I am not the only one who sees an analogy here, although from a different angle. The Los Angeles Times argues that “Some Disney watchers see driverless shuttles recapturing the futuristic vision set when monorails were introduced at Disneyland in the early 1960s and Walt Disney World in the early 1970s.”.

#tbd 4 driverless shuttles:

Will cities go driverless with their big buses? Or will those be gradually replaced by smaller shuttles driving dynamic custom routes, based on demand?

Another similar analogy are, by the way, elevators. They are also driverless, remotely accessible — or at least connected to some remote support — and they are bound to a cable. In fact, elevators are actually a very interesting topic in the scope of AC. Firstly, the technology’s medial perception and, secondly, people’s understanding of the technology (complexity).

Firstly, it is assumed that fear of elevators is influenced by the films depicting accidents happening in them. Compare this to how AC have been modelled in movies (or compare it to how it was described in (Markus Maurer, 2016)). Although I think the book does a good job describing the car in its “Social, Historical and Cultural Contexts”, it is not 100% up-to-dated because terminates with the the film “I, Robot” as it last source of discussion. According to Wikipedia one movie where AC appeared — Eagle Eye — came out after “I, Robot”. I haven’t seen the movie and can, therefore, not tell how it would influence the AC’s perception but I doubt that this movie alone can significantly change people’s perception about AC.

Anyhow, the AC’s perception has gone from “early optimism” to “more cautionary themes” (Markus Maurer, 2016)and how the AC established itself as something „between the weird and the wonderful” (Markus Maurer, 2016).

In the 70s the AC’s two stereotyped sides emerged: the AC as friendly and helpful companion was introduced by “(Herbie,) The Love Bug”. The opposite, a cruel killing machine — although Herbie isn’t so innocent himself/itself either — is visualized by Steven Spielberg’s “Duel”. In this movie, the AC vehicle is incorporated by a human-driven truck whose driver is never seen but chases another driver almost to death. With KITT, however, public became a highly futuristic car with its own thinking (sometimes overriding the driver’s choices) aimed at protecting the driver and being his pale. In later movies, such as Minority Report, the AC is depicted as something totalitarian, robbing us from our autonomy by being controlled by the government, at least when you are on the run (in Minority Report where a “Security lockdown” was “enabled ” (Markus Maurer, 2016) and the car received an “Revised destination” (Markus Maurer, 2016)). Additionally, “I, Robot” shows a self-driving car that with a manual option which seems to be safer for lower driving speeds (driving in manual mode almost produced an accident while Will Smith was driving at high speed) (Markus Maurer, 2016).

Whereas this amount of example might be biased and somewhat limited to draw conclusions I, however, think that the fear of AC leading to a totalitarian society is prevalent in today’s society. Going back to the elevator-example from above I think it makes sense to conclude that additional PR will be necessary to diffuse AC (change agent? #tbd).

Secondly, the correlation between usage — or favourability — and understanding (“complexity”). Lisa Fritscher argues that people’s understanding of an elevator’s working and people’s favourability towards using it (their fear) is correlated. People’s limited knowledge of how elevator’s function is, based on this, one reason why people fear elevators, despite their not being any reason for it. Roger refers to this phenomena with his diffusion factor “Complexity”. Stating that complexity is negatively related to the diffusion rate, meaning the more complex an innovation is perceived, the slower its diffusion rate. What I find interesting about this in the context of AC is that, whereas their inner workings are rather complex, their basic functioning can be explained in layman’s terms as, for example quoted from (Markus Maurer, 2016):

Each car has a small prism eye at the front, which communicates with the traffic lights that are “embedded inconspicuously in house walls.” “These mechanical eyes regulate speed and steering via alternating reflected images”

#tbd: is that simple enough, to ppl. Have the concepts required to understand this? à see AC book

A “random” Gondel

The olli made by local motors


Looking at it from Rogers diffusion aspects:

- Relative advantage: Compared to manually driving shuttle buses or similar in amusement parks I don’t think that there is much relative advantage for consumers besides the “advantage” of driving something new and possibly exciting.

- Observability: People are being primed towards driverless vehicles.

Look at Analogien zu anderen Technologien und damit Akzeptanzerfahrungen aus diesen Berei- chen sind tendenziell nur schwierig herzustellen. Obwohl es heute schon viele Beispiele automatisierter Verkehrssysteme gibt (etwa Flugzeug, Schiff, (U-)Bahn oder Fahrzeuge im Militärbereich), ist ihnen allen gemeinsam, dass sie immer noch über eine menschliche Kontroll- bzw. Steuerungsinstanz verfügen — ein Fahrzeug oder Mobilitätssystem ohne diese menschliche Instanz gibt es derzeit noch nicht ([3], S. 6). From daimler AC book for analogy stuff

one of the links has “magnetschwebebahen” as an image implenten à cool idea 4 AC + Nachfolger von “guide wires”?

It is also a form of attraction

It is limited time

People wouldn’t have to give up anything

They trust machines anyway

They wouldn’t have that much choice

Due to a controllable environment technical “unterentwicklugn” wouldn’t be that much of an issue à speaks against the point I mentioned above in r 2 taxis and != issue bc of short range

  1. Rogers aspects

Orlando would also fuel trialability:

And Orlando, with its millions of tourists renting cars and taking public transit every day, has a unique opportunity to make these high-level plans reality. (

Good way to tackle replacement cycles + give people — besides their own car — one way to test ist à generally à such renting / pubic using of AC will be pt. 4 the diffusion

It would target the right people.

Roger argues that “rich” people (#tbd: the true attributes) as represented by, amongst other, cosmopolitness and “more contact with people outside there area — are more keen to accept an innovation. Thes people are the ones that will visit Walt Disney World fit this category (tourists = cosmopolitness, rich — they can afford and AC — ). Furthermore, it seems to me that being adventourous fits w/ Rogers’ charactteristics + being adventourous = pt. 4 accepting innovation.

Further, a lot of people visit Orlando.

There can be several niches: Orlando officials envision a city where self-driving buses drive tourists from their hotels to theme parks, where visitors can become familiar with autonomous technology through a display at Epcot’s pavilion, where the thousands of rental cars visitors use each year are self-driving, and where even Disney World’s Monorail gets an autonomous upgrade. From

One niche:

Moreover, the idea of upgrading the monorail to autonomous driving doesn’t seem to be “difficult” (in terms of costs, education…) from my point of view. + upgrading is not difficult — as probablty with the other use cases as well.

What could be additionally difficult for the diffusion of AC is that it will be coming with innovations in fuelling. Besides changes in battery life, charging duration, charging infrastructure, costs etc. this would also require people to adopt cultural/behaviour changes. Two at the same time seems difficult.

# Orlando’s plan through the Central Florida Automated Vehicle Partnership looks similar to other 10- and 20-year proposals cities come up with to design the future of transportation and urban planning. Along with autonomous technology, the city is hoping to adopt electronic vehicles and alternative fuel sources. From

I think this post very theoretical and framework based, but because of this big topic I think it makes sense.

This situation lead to pioneers” (“wealthy enthusiasts, interested in novelties and mechanical adventure” (Geels, 2005)) doing two things.

Firstly, despite– or possibly exactly because of — these issues the “pioneers” bought the cars and worked on them in order to solve the prevailing technical issues and to demonstrate the feasibility of ICE cars (happened in the 1880s). We can observe similar activities today with

Secondly, after these main technical issues were solved these very pioneers started looking for problems for their solutions (they “searched for suitable application domains”). Eventually, four niches for exploration emerged. These were

1. Taxis

2. “Leisure-riding” at parks to show off wealth

3. Touring at the countryside

4. Racing.

Although we similarities to the first activity (“pioneers pioneering” — #sorryforchoiceofwords) I cannot see any niche exploration, but I think one is taking place. #tbd as a link for the discussion of niches @ amusement parsk

</amusement park niches>

Tradeoff between trialability, observability, complexity and compatibility and user safety

Companies have two options for rolling out their autonomous cars; they can either roll out each level of autonomy incrementally (like Tesla does) or in a bing bang approach start selling their cars only when they are capable of fully autonomous Level 5 driving (like Waymo does)

Whereas the bing bang approach lowers the risk of accidents significantly, incremental rollout would — although it might sound counterintuitive at first — speed up the diffusion. This is because incremental rollouts give consumers

  • earlier access to self-driving technology
  • earlier access to less radically different self-driving technology than they are used to
  • earlier access to less radically complex self-driving technology than fully autonomous self-driving technology represents

In other words, they can try (trialability) and observe (observability) technology which is not too complex (complexity) but very compatible with what they are used (compatibility).

Possible media backlash and their consequences (negative perception of autonomous cars) caused by imperfect autonomous cars speak against the incremental rollouts. Reports like this one by Consumer Reports would then be just the beginning.


see studies in Taking a Drive, Hitching a Ride: Autonomous Driving and Car Usage for data

such issues:

I’m less confident in their ability to avoid non-lethal catastrophes. Consumers will not have a lot of patience for cars that take their occupants to the wrong location, attempt to drive on footpaths, try to board non-existent ferries, or get stuck at intersections by being overly cautious in response to other road users, strand them in dangerous neighborhoods, or hit buses while negotiating road hazards. People will get very impatient indeed if their cars drop them off to go shopping then never return because somebody put a cardboard box in front of the space it’s stopped in


[1] See “Compatibility” as one of the major innovation acceptance drivers.

[2] I have explained these influencers of innovation adoption here in detail:

[3] SAE automated vehicle classifications from Wikipedia:

  • Level 0: Automated system issues warnings but has no vehicle control.
  • Level 1 (”hands on”): Driver and automated system shares control over the vehicle. An example would be Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) where the driver controls steering and the automated system controls speed. Using Parking Assistance, steering is automated while speed is manual. The driver must be ready to retake full control at any time. Lane Keeping Assistance (LKA) Type II is a further example of level 1 self driving.
  • Level 2 (”hands off”): The automated system takes full control of the vehicle (accelerating, braking, and steering). The driver must monitor the driving and be prepared to immediately intervene at any time if the automated system fails to respond properly. The shorthand ”hands off” is not meant to be taken literally. In fact, contact between hand and wheel is often mandatory during SAE 2 driving, to confirm that the driver is ready to intervene.
  • Level 3 (”eyes off”): The driver can safely turn their attention away from the driving tasks, e.g. the driver can text or watch a movie. The vehicle will handle situations that call for an immediate response, like emergency braking. The driver must still be prepared to intervene within some limited time, specified by the manufacturer, when called upon by the vehicle to do so.
  • Level 4 (”mind off”): As level 3, but no driver attention is ever required for safety, i.e. the driver may safely go to sleep or leave the driver’s seat. Self driving is supported only in limited areas (geofenced) or under special circumstances, like traffic jams. Outside of these areas or circumstances, the vehicle must be able to safely abort the trip, i.e. park the car, if the driver does not retake control.
  • Level 5 (”wheel optional”): No human intervention is required. An example would be a robotic taxi.