Engaging with disruption - RAC Intellibus
We recently had the opportunity to experience a brave and innovative attempt to engage with, and prepare the community for a coming massive change.
The RAC Intellibus is the first trial of self-driving bus technology run in Australia. The fully automated bus follows a 15-minute circuit along the South Perth foreshore, carrying up to 12 members of the public along for the ride.
The RAC openly acknowledge that they have invested in bringing the bus to Australia to expose the public (and policy makers) to the coming technology, and to facilitate discussion and debate as to how best we can prepare for and take advantage of such change.
"Today, we drive our cars but in the future, our cars will drive us. Are we prepared for self-driving vehicles? What are the benefits, risks, and issues?"
Full credit to the RAC for this. The experience is engaging and thought provoking. The hosts are enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and the bus itself is remarkable. My 7-year old daughter and I walked away discussing what self-driving vehicles might mean for us (Layne's rather relieved that she may never need a drivers licence), and where the tech may go next (daddy's still dreaming of flying cars).
I can't help thinking that this experiential model is needed to facilitate engagement with a range of other existing/coming disruptions including:
- Impacts of climate change
- Density in housing
- Genetically modified foods/medicine
Institutions such as Scitech and the Australian Urban Design Research Centre (AUDRC) have been doing this sort of thing for years...but not at the scale and publicity of this trial. It takes an well resourced and invested stakeholder such as the RAC to take it on - and good on them for doing it! Who will step up for other coming challenges?