The introduction of autonomous vehicles (autonomous vehicles) will reshape the many social interactions that are part of traffic today. In order for autonomous vehicles to become successfully integrated, the social interactions surrounding them need to be purposefully designed. To ensure success and save development efforts, design methods that explore social aspects in early design phases are needed to provide conceptual directions before committing to concrete solutions. This paper contributes an exploration of methods for addressing the social aspects of autonomous vehicles in three key areas: the vehicle as a social entity in traffic, co-experience within the vehicle and the user–vehicle relationship. The methods explored include Wizard of Oz, small-scale scenarios, design metaphors, enactment and peer-to-peer interviews. These were applied in a workshop setting with 18 participants from academia and industry. The methods provided interesting design seeds, however with differing effectiveness. The most promising methods enabled flexible idea exploration, but in a contextualized and concrete manner through tangible objects and enactment to stage future use situations. Further, combinations of methods that enable a shift between social perspectives were preferred. Wizard of Oz and small-scale scenarios were found fruitful as collaboration basis for multidisciplinary teams, by establishing a united understanding of the problem at hand.
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