Special Issue Call for Abstracts on “Autonomous mobility transitions: socio-spatial dimensions and the role of urban planning and policy”

Special Issue of Cities, the International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning 



Advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and digital technologies are set to transform many facets of society, including the way we travel and interact in cities. Today, AI-driven and Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-enabled fully autonomous vehicles are being introduced into a number of cities around the world.

As automated driving becomes pervasive in cities, profound societal and spatial impacts will be inevitable. An important socio-spatial dimension of automated driving is the likely impact that this new form of mobility will have on the structure of cities and on the configuration of streets and public spaces.

Introducing AVs into existing built-environments and transportation systems could cause major disruptions and worsen problems of unequal access to opportunities, especially if investments needed in providing public transit are diverted into building infrastructure for driverless vehicles.

Moreover, the transition to autonomous mobility will have implications for creating inclusive and age-friendly urban futures. However, to do so, innovative urban development and transportation planning strategies that could leverage autonomous vehicles to respond to the mobility needs of different groups of people, will be critical.

In the logistics and local goods delivery sector, urban planning must respond to new challenges associated with the technology, including planning for the supporting infrastructure such as road and street systems, electric vehicle charging stations and warehousing and bulk-breaking facilities.

Economic impacts, including potential job losses in the transportation sector are also expected because of automation. In addition, fundamental questions regarding the ownership, management and access to data that users of autonomous transport services would generate, need addressing.

Thus, the urban fabric, as well as different groups of people in different parts of the city may be affected differently in the transition to autonomous mobility. How can urban planning and policy respond to the wider socio-spatial implications of autonomous mobility?

Focus of the special issue and themes

This special issue seeks to bring together a collection of critical perspectives on the social and spatial implications of the diffusion of autonomous vehicles in cities. In particular, the special issue will seek to publish contributions that stimulate debates and improve our understanding of how urban planning and policy can respond to this potentially disruptive technology as it intersects with cities. The contributions can be empirical, theoretical and methodological.
Topics can include (but are not limited to):

  • autonomous mobility and urban spatial structure
  • affordability, equity and inclusivity implications of autonomous mobility
  • accessibility implications of autonomous vehicles for motorized travel
  • accessibility implications of autonomous driving for different age groups including children, young adults, people in old age, and for individuals with disabilities and the urban poor
  • implications of autonomous driving for vulnerable road users, including cyclists and pedestrians
  • implications of autonomous mobility for mass transit in cities
  • possible travel behaviour changes around driverless vehicles
  • governance of autonomous mobility transitions
  • the nexus between autonomous mobility and public health
  • privacy and security concerns around autonomous vehicles
  • the nexus among autonomous vehicles, emerging mobility concepts (e.g. shared-mobility, mobility-as-a-service) and urban sustainability
  • autonomous mobility transitions and employment in the city
  • urban planning implications of automation in freight movement in the logistics sector

Abstract submission guidelines

Interested authors are invited to submit an abstract (maximum 400 words), describing the rationale, methods, data and expected results of their papers. Please email your abstracts to ransfordantwi.acheampong@manchester.ac.uk The deadline for abstract submission is July 31, 2019.

Important dates

Abstract submission deadline: July 31, 2019

Decision on abstract proposal: September 13, 2019

Manuscript submission deadline (6,000 – 8,000 words): February 29, 2020

Reviewers’ Feedback: May 31, 2020

Revised paper’s submission deadline: August 30, 2020

Reviewers’ final feedback and editorial decisions: September 30, 2020

Final manuscript due: October 30, 2020

Publication with Cities: January 2021

Guest editors

Ransford A. Acheampong—University of Manchester, UK [ransfordantwi.acheampong@manchester.ac.uk]

Federico Cugurullo—Trinity College Dublin, Republic of Ireland [cugurulf@tcd.ie]

Luca Staricco— Politecnico di Torino, Italy [luca.staricco@polito.it‎]

Elisabetta Vitale Brovarone —Politecnico di Torino, Italy [elisabetta.vitale@polito.it‎]


Prof Pengjun Zhao

For more information about the aims of the journal and submission guidelines please see