2nd Annual Great Rendez-Vous "The robomobile life"

Invitation to the second annual great rendez-vous of the "Robomobile life" permanent prospective workshop

Launched in May 2017 by the French Ministry for an Ecological and Solidary Transition, in charge of transportation, the "Robomobile life" permanent prospective workshop is an open forum for all questionings, debates and co-explorations of all-sided changes that robomobility could involve (here robomobility means pervasive driverless mobility of persons and goods). The project is to enlighten the long-term choices of both public and private players, in France and internationally.

From the start, the Robomobile Life Workshop has chosen to expand to an international scale its approach to robomobility-related issues. Given the fully global cartography of driverless vehicle players, the future of robomobility, in France or elsewhere, will result from complex interplays. Our Workshop has to look at how other countries or world regions are considering and exploring the wider robomobility field. Many of the topics we are working on, find a strong resonance in other reflections and projects, in Europe of course (for example among our German or Scandinavian neighbours) and, in North America, Japan, Australia, China, or Singapore.

On track with the DNA of the Prospective Workshop, international, prospective, participatory and societal will be the key features of this second Great Rendez-vous. It will bring together 150 participants from different geographical and professional backgrounds (economic players from all sectors, public authorities including local ones, associations and foundations, research centres, etc.), so to create an expression of multiple views and stimulate a high-quality debate that apprehends long-term issues.

On June 28, 2019, this second Great Rendez-vous of the "Robomobile life" permanent prospective workshop will aim to combine different approaches and reflections worldwide that consider the same horizons (360 degree, and long-term), about five key issues for the future: 

Towards 2030: what redesigns of mobility systems for absorbing the emerging first wave of robomobile applications?

After almost a decade of hyperbolic predictions about the imminent readiness and time-to-market short-term commercialization of autonomous mobility solutions, there are growing signs that a pervasive deployment of 100% driverless vehicles is unlikely to occur at least within the next 30 years across many different parts of the contemporary world. But what is more likely to transpire with respect to robomobile technologies in the shorter term?
One of the aims of the « Robomobile life » Workshop is to investigate the kinds of social, economic, and geographical disruptions that people in different contexts can expect within the next couple of decades or so. In what ways can we expect use segments such as driverless human transport shuttles, technical and industrial drones, or robotrucks on inter-urban roads, to transform the design of existing mobility systems by 2030? Will robomobile solutions be contained in a few niche applications, or push for a broader redefinition of mobility networks and practices? And how does this differ between and within countries, urban/rural areas, and economic systems?

Social and territorial changes: what major implications of “living in a robomobile new world”?

Practices of mobility may have significantly evolved since 1900, but most of vehicles and transportation systems we have nowadays, were already there in the early 20th century. Bicyle, train, tram, metro, bus, car, these technologies have known their first breakthrough a while ago...and since then, we are building on those innovations, step by step, and this incremental improvement and optimisation dynamic still goes on. We can all assess the strength of mobility transformation in the shape of our modern lifestyles. What kind of change might robomobility bring in our way of life? Will robomobility keep on going on the path of an enhancement of individual mobility? What social benefits can robomobile technologies and systems lead to? Is there a social demand for robomobile lifestyles?

Equally, in what ways do they involve new risks, dangers, and social inequalities? One of the aims of the workshop is to explore the Janus-faced quality of robomobility. It is expected that international perspectives can help to map the diverging perceptions, both positive and negative, of robomobile futures. This includes an investigation of the ways in which robomobility might bring or accelerate territorial changes. What about urban forms? Will robomobility be contained to a few privileged urban territories and premium offers on toll roads, or is it thinkable that rural areas could also implement some robomobile services?

Also, with the generalization of connectivity to all types of mobility, there are multiple concerns – not transport specific - on privacy and ethics issues regarding big data and artificial intelligence. How to balance complexity management and public governance, ensure state sovereignty in a world led by tech firms such as GAFAM, BATX or other new global firms whose intent is to corner and lock the market ?

So far robomobile futures appear to be wide-open. We don’t know whether the path to robomobility is more of a radical shift (analogy with the smartphone revolution) or more of a long-term transition (like the automobile transition throughout the 20th century), or if it might die down, only by a few narrow, limited and very sectorized changes, after all – if ever, the structuring innovation, less challenging and more incremental, would remain the C-ITS innovation.An international perspective shall focus on the social and territorial change, that this robomobile disruption might reveal, highlight, accelerate, generate. An undertaking can be the mapping of emerging threats and disturbances on the one hand, hopes and expectations on the other hand, regarding public interests, key assets, values and social behaviors and needs. Also, addressing this issue of a “robomobile new world” invites us all to integrate in our reflections, both developed and developing countries.

Public policies challenges: what opportunities, key factors, levers from the point of view of public authorities (national, regional and local)?

The “case” of robomobility highlights a general dilemma faced by public authorities: how to deal with high levels of uncertainty, technological, economical and societal all at once, whereas there is some kind of push from private innovators to go fast and big? To some extent, decision-makers are asked to take strategic commitments, in multiple aspects (city planning, mobility management, tax policy, data privacy, urban logistics, etc.) with some quite limited information - here about the real prospects of robomobile applications in two, three decades or more.

One can observe that countries around the world are not going on the pace on the robomobile journey. Some countries (states), regions, cities have decided to become some kind of “open-lab” for robomobility, by opting for a liberal approach for experimentations and implementation of robomobile services. Others adopt a more
cautious stance on these matters. One of the goal of the Prospective Workshop is to better highlight how to Robomobile Life Permanent Prospective Workshop articulate long-term vision and strategies, through short and middle-term public policies, with a resolutely crosscutting approach. To be considered too: the interplay of different public actors, working at different territorial scales or timeframes.

By adopting an international perspective, we intend to reach a common better understanding of how robomobility sets new challenges to the public sphere, and how policy-makers should deal with environmental/global imperatives, social issues, multiple-level governance schemes and that complex transformation induced by robomobility. Of course, one big underlying question is whether robomobility
development might cause individual mobility and overall traffics to soar, or help to manage and contain urban mobility demand as a contribution to broader objectives, like quality of life, GHG cuts, fair economic competition between actors, etc.

Physical and digital infrastructure: how to deal with multiple generations of infrastructure, sooner and sooner obsolete?

Here we will consider how new infrastructure policies should adapt to accommodate robomobility. The needed co-operation between infrastructure and automated vehicles turns out to be complex, not to mention the key issues on anticipation and synchronization of deployment paces.

To what extent will robomobile technologies depend upon new platforms, both physical (roads and streets) and virtual (their digital twins, V2V and V2I connection schemes and services, monitoring and management agencies)? Will the high requirements for transition phase, for adapting and specially equipping the networks (loudly driven by the automotive industry) remain in the matured phase, or will them erase, due to progresses on sensors and processing? How to integrate the accelerated obsolescence of standards, interfaces and system architectures, proper to the digital world, into this old road universe, characterized by very long-term investments? Will standards, condition and the financing equation of today road infrastructure just prove disqualifying, or show adaptable to the robomobile occurrence? What models of financing for the required public and/or private investments for adapting physical infrastructure and developing digital infrastructure?

What about the cooperation, complementarity or deadly competition between traditional rail public mass-transit systems and possible new robomobile hi-flow road solutions (now very uncertain but not incredible, and likely to condemn, before amortization, some huge rail investments) ?

The Workshop seeks to explore such questions by facilitating interchange between international perspectives. A number of international experts will be invited to discuss and reflect on the infrastructure-related complexities of robomobile futures, especially with regards to contextual issues.

Work and jobs market: what opportunities, new constraints and new organizations in a robomobile economy?

What are the implications for the realm of work with the rise of robomobile systems? Of course, new driverless transport amenities will lead to the elimination or modification of many types of occupations, especially in the road transport and logistics industry? But what change beyond this merely mechanical effect? Here we aim to examine how work can be metamorphosed, in a whole host of ways, in the age of robomobility.

What would be the “work environment” of actual workers in this robomobilised economy? Where, when and how will “workers” actually “work”? What place “work” might occupy in the daily-life of individuals? Will we work "on-board" on a regular basis (urban commuting – and maybe with shared vehicles) or will it remain exceptional linked with the growth of distant teleworking that robomobility precisely enables?

The industrial economy is made of workshops and factories; industrial processes mix human and machine work. The maritime industry takes place across oceans, seas and harbors; workers onboard boats and ships might have a different approach of their work, compared to office workers who commute every morning and evening. Will
the robomobile economy be a never stopping engine, day and night with no pause, by abolishing daily cycles?

International perspectives will deepen understanding of how new robomobile economies involve, across a different range of sectors, new ways, new spaces, and new temporalities of working.

All exchanges and debates of the day will be held in English. Registration is free of charge, upon invitation or your request. There is limited space, so get in touch early with : lavierobomobile@developpement-durable.gouv.fr.

Additionally, the day before (June 27), we will also be holding a side seminar devoted to research on robomobile topics in Paris-La Defense, with the same audience and registration policy. The seminar programme can be downloaded here.

Provisional programme

Sequence 1 from 9:00 am to 10:15 am: Robomobility from different geographical and thematic angles (Plenary)

As an opening, five witnesses, observers, actors or experts from at least four different continents will tell us how their country or region of the world perceive (or not) the robomobile question in terms of societal changes. What are the topics that excite? What are the issues that focus the debate? What are the questions? How do they envision or anticipate the emergence of robomobility?

From these different points of view, an interactive dialogue between the participants will take place, to identify alignments or bridges between countries and on the contrary some specific approaches related to geography, culture, or interplays.

As a keynote presentation, Pierre Musseau, advisor "smart and sustainable city" to Jean-Louis Missika's cabinet, Deputy Mayor of Paris in charge of town planning, architecture, the Greater Paris projects, will then highlight the challenges posed to the public managers in general and to the City of Paris in particular by the upcoming advent of robomobile applications.

Sequence 2 from 10:15 to 12:15: Prospective rounds (break-outs)

The participants will be divided into small groups according to the five issues selected for the Great Rendez-vous (also see the detailed presentation paper of these key issues):

  • Towards 2030
  • Social and territorial changes
  • Public policies challenges
  • Physical and digital infrastructure
  • Work and jobs market

Each group will be introduced by an original contribution from the Prospective Workshop team or an international expert. These prospective rounds, designed to promote joint production, should provide prospective visions of the assigned themes. The deliverable of each group (to be included later in the overall deliverable of the Great Rendez-vous) will take the form of a list of 3 questions to be explored by the robomobile community, and three recommendations addressed to public authorities.

Sequence 3 from 12:15 to 1:30 pm: Lunch, open interactions and networking opportunities

After an intense morning, a convivial moment during lunch. A presentation area - posters, videos, both for publications - will be open to all participants.


Sequence 4 from 1:30 to 3 pm: Crossing, sharing, going further (Mix plenary and small groups)

After the lunch break, we will share the proposals (3 questions and three recommendations each) of the morning’s groups. The aim will be to challenge, clarify, improve, qualify, and make more concrete these proposals. During this sequence, each participant will be able to contribute directly to 2 of the five themes of the day (in addition to the theme of his/her morning group).

Sequence 5 from 3 to 4:30 pm: Debate and Synthesis (Plenary)

Keynotes from international experts:

Barbara Lenz, Director of the Institute for Transport Research of the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), will analyse the approaches of different German actors to robomobility development.

Dr Johanna Zmud, Senior research scientist at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) and Director of its Washington, D.C., office, will present her vision of future challenges for robomobility, drawing on her extensive international experience on these topics.

During the Q&A session, participants could ask them to react spontaneously to the proposals they have worked throughout the day. Pierre Musseau will join Barbara Lenz and Johanna Zmud for this discussion with the participants.

The day will be concluded by a discussion on the international follow-up to be given to this 2nd Great Rendez-vous of the "Robomobile life" Prospective Workshop: possible ensuing Rendez-Vous, running an exchange network, future collaborations. 

48.8411, 2.5863

2nd Annual Great Rendez-Vous "The robomobile life"