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Irving Innovation Fellowship Grant


TYPE: Authored Book

PUBLISHER: AR+D Publishing

YEAR: 2024


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Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are appearing on our roads, representing the next technological disruption to our mobility systems. While their long-term spatial implications remain largely underestimated, Autonomous Urbanism: Towards a New Transitopia argues that AVs offer a major opportunity to rethink our city’s built environments — with profound implications on urban life since automobiles transformed the design of cities in the prior century. However, AVs also risk reinforcing many negative effects of auto-based urbanism including urban sprawl, single-function infrastructure, congestion, and environmental degradation. Instead, this book proposes a driverless mobility paradigm shift that moves cities away from automobile dependency towards automated mass transit and mobility-as-a-service — using the city of Los Angeles as a testbed. 

In this two-volume set, one book depicts the narrative experience of this future city through the format of a graphic novel. The other lays the framework for that speculative future, grounding it in urban mobility history, transportation policies, and multi-scalar typologies. It visualizes a future city that is not dictated by technology, but one where technology is strategically deployed to make our built environments more multi-modal, human-centric, and spatially vibrant — one where any technological advances are fore-fronted by the public good. It unpacks how changing the way we move about a city fundamentally changes the type of city that emerges. In envisioning this future guided by design and policy actions, this book contends that cities can transition from the Autopias of today, to the Transitopias of tomorrow. This is a big shift. Are cities and their inhabitants ready?


Book 1 (The Framework) of Autonomous Urbanism lays the groundwork for the arrival of driverless vehicles into our cities. The book’s first half is grounded in a discussion of our recent urban transportation history and its effect on the evolution of our built environments. It outlines concrete, actionable transportation policies and models to guide current trajectories of mobility technology innovation. This framework sets up the book’s second half to explore the speculative implications that automated mobility will have on the design of cities — through multi-scalar typologies ranging from transportation network changes and mobility infrastructure, to urban block structures and car-centric architectural building types. Altogether, the book acts as a guidebook for a range of stakeholders — from mobility companies to designers and policy-makers — who can impact a driverless revolution. It charges these disciplines to play a key, influential role in the implementation of AVs in order to ensure that the public realm of our cities is protected and well-served.

Book 2 (The Experience) of Autonomous Urbanism illustrates a near urban future in the year 2057 that has incorporated driverless technology into its mobility services and built environments. It deploys the unique narrative format of a graphic novel to depict the day- in-the-life experiences of living, working, recreating, and moving around in a future city in which its transportation options have become more multi-modal and pluralistic. As seen bottom-up through the eyes of the public, the book visualizes the radical implications that this automated mobility paradigm shift will have on our cities and their societies—challenging the everyday citizen to consider how their own mobility choices and behaviors shape urban space and the experiences they engender. By doing so, the book invites the reader to imagine how new mobility technologies might benefit their own lives, empowering them to become change-agents in bringing these driverless multi-modal futures to transpire.