A first Citizens’ Debate on Autonomous Mobility in Aachen, Germany

On April 6th, 2019, the first Citizens’ Debate on Autonomous Mobility in Germany took place in Aachen. This was the opening event of a series of debates to take place in Germany over the coming months.

Together with our local partners from the City of Aachen administration and the RWTH Aachen University, we were very much looking forward to this “premiere” but the tension mounted as the day approached because in the run-up to the event, we had already noticed that the topic of autonomous mobility had hit a nerve with Aachen’s citizens.

The potential participants were randomly selected and contacted on the basis of registry office data, thus guaranteeing the most heterogeneous and representative panel of participants possible. The feedback rate proved to be extraordinarily high. The demographic make-up of the panel of participants, whose ages ranged from 17 to 85, was also a pleasant surprise.

The City of Aachen provided the Aula Carolina in the heart of the city as the setting for the event. This former 17th-century monastery church is one of the city’s landmarks and now a prestigious venue. This choice is proof of the high importance the City of Aachen gave to the Citizens’ Debate.

After an exciting phase of preparation and personal contact with many citizens, the only question that remained was how many of them would actually show up on the day for the debate, and whether the hoped-for momentum would be achieved. And in that respect, the event lived up to our expectations! About 90 highly motivated citizens took part and debated passionately throughout the day,  seriously engaging with the complex topics.

Conclusion: The Aachen citizens’ dialogue on autonomous mobility was a great success. In particular, cooperation with the City of Aachen and the RWTH Aachen University was outstanding. We would also like to express our gratitude to the citizens of Aachen for their engagement once again.

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