Alqatawneh, Omayma (2021) Design Fiction as an Approach to Stimulate the Adoption of Self-Driving Cars. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Engaging with the future is an essential part of design, as design is about exploring, creating, and proposing something new. Design Fiction is a future-oriented approach, investigating the future through a combination of prototyping and storytelling. It can bring products not yet in existence to a concrete platform so that they can be examined. Therefore, Design Fiction can be classified as a service design approach that can address, visualise, raise questions, and explore specific issues at the beginning of the design process through its tools and strategies. This research conducted a deep investigation into the Design Fiction approach and found three features that correlate with the sustainable future studies: first, Design Fiction foregrounds questions of values and ethics; second, Design Fiction serves a rhetorical purpose within public discourses around the future; third, Design Fiction creates a safe space for engaging with vague futures. Therefore, Design Fiction is not about predicting the future or creating utopian visions that develop emerging technologies. Instead, it affords a means to explore the societal and technological distinctions of possible futures to better understand our present.

Design Fiction tools and strategies can be utilised as a technique to anticipate possible opportunities and challenges. The present research has employed Design Fiction strategies to investigate the adoption of Autonomous Vehicles (AV's). AVs are part of a critical shift that articulates a technological leap forward, proposing solutions to current transportation problems to change how people address mobility. Conversely, many drivers and passengers are unwilling to adopt new technologies, as it is not common for humans to have no control of the ambiguities around safety issues. Based on the above, the AV concept needs a new technique of communication to overcome the challenge of earning the trust of future customers.

As its vital contribution to knowledge and to accomplish the research aim, this project employed the Research through Design (RtD) approach, using Design Fiction as a tool to change behaviour to facilitate the adoption of AV's. The point of departure for the research is the following question: How does the employment of Design Fiction stimulate the adoption of Autonomous Vehicles? Design Fiction strategies provide a comprehensive understanding of the publics need to envisage the use of automation technology. Consequently, the present research proposed a new car design called Archer, and a Human-Machine Interface system called Intelligent Adaptive Ride (IAR), derived from the user requirements. This proposal reflects on the idea that Design Fiction has the immediate challenge of closing the gap between a vision and its material expression by situating the user in a shared conceptual space, allow them to explore, question, and engage with the potential future.

To validate this proposal, this inquiry has utilised a mixed research approach. A quantitative survey was conducted to reflect on the automation system concept and usage and the proposed prototype of Archer. Moreover, a Wizard of Oz experiment was implemented to examine the efficiency and acceptance of the suggested IAR system. This research utilised IBM SPSS Statistics software to analyse the data to reflect on the research methods and hypothesis.

The results of this research found that Design Fiction tools and Strategies opened up a new space to envisage the usage of the automation technology, explore its impact and allow the potential user to reflect on what is preferable and desired to be seen in the future. The research strategy encourages future users to trust the automation technology, as they are involved in shaping its world and employment.

ALQATAWNEH - THESIS.pdf - Accepted Version
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