Competing for the Future: Problematization of the Contemporary System of Automobility in Public Discourse by Yandex Self-Driving Group

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Nikolay Rudenko


In the media and on the pages of academic publications, autonomous vehicles are very often spoken of as technologies that can solve the problems of contemporary mobility. This discourse uncritically reproduces what the developers, who believe that their problematization strategies reflect reality, themselves say. At the same time, there is an contrary position in autonomous vehicle research: its adherents’ starting point is to accuse the developers of seeking to reproduce the dominant logic of the existing car system, thereby preserving and perpetuating the car status quo. This article proposes a third way to analyze the emergence and development of autonomous vehicles projects: relying on the sociology of translation, it points out the importance of a critical assessment of the future that developers paint, but at the same time of not contextualizing their activities a priori the basis of on our own presuppositions. Following these principles, the article analyzes how Yandex, the largest commercial project for the development of autonomous vehicles in Russia, identifies in public discourse important for itself contexts related to the automotive system and problematizes them, rhetorically “freeing up” space in the automotive system for its own robotic developments. The article reveals that these problematizations concern four aspects: the paradigm of car ownership and use, road safety, business models of car use, and the evolution of the automotive industry. The identified problematizations allow us to ascertain how the largest project for the development of autonomous vehicles in Russia sees the future, in which direction it is moving, and what significance it can have for society and the economy.

Article in Russian


Autonomous Vehicle, Michel Callon, Sociology of Translation, Problematization, Mobile Collectives, Yandex

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