Citizen’s debate on driverless vehicles in Aachen

As part of the international consortium of the citizen’s debate on driverless mobility, the City of Aachen joined up with RWTH Aachen University to invite 2000 people to the register for the debate on April 6th, 2019. 180 people applied and 100 of them were eventually invited to participate. “We were really overwhelmed by this response,” said Uwe Müller from the Department of Transport Planning and Mobility for the City of Aachen in his short welcoming address in the historic Aula Carolina venue in Aachen. The debate began on Saturday morning at 9.30 am and came to an end at 5 pm.

And the dedication really was impressive: the majority of those of us who had started in the morning were still there in the late afternoon. Throughout the day, the participants, who formed small groups around 18 tables, debated the various aspects of autonomous driving in a controversial yet constructive way.

“Mobility is an important topic in Aachen. We are discussing clean air and more traffic safety from every angle,” said Müller at the beginning of the event. Of course, this also includes the debate on autonomous driving.

The event was keenly followed by Martina Ziefle, Professor of Communication Sciences at RWTH Aachen University, and her staff and students: “Innovations and transformations in the field of mobility will fundamentally change our mobility behavior and have considerable effects on our society as a whole. Participants in the dialogue should have the opportunity to help shape current and future developments.”

The City of Aachen, Martina Ziefle and her university institute, PSI Logistics, and various companies in the field of electric mobility and autonomous driving have joined forces in the APEROL research project (http://www.comm.rwth-aachen.de/index.php?article_id=1083&clang=0), which funded the debate. They all want to include the debate’s outcomes and findings in local developments and applications.

The dialogue in Aachen was the first mobility debate in Germany. A total of 20 cities in Europe, the USA and Canada are planning dialogues in the coming weeks and months, with 100 participants each.

Every opinion was welcome at the citizen’s debate, and no prior knowledge was required. All points of views, fears, concerns and ideas played an important role. The fact that so many participants stayed until the end of the event seems to prove how exciting the format and day must have been for many.

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