Pop The Trunk

Shenzhen: pop the truck

Yesterday I drove straight from Hong Kong airport to give a talk at Tencent headquarters in Shenzhen. As you cross the border into Shenzhen traffic slows to a crawl as passports and visas are checked and cars are searched. One of the vehicle norms at this border crossing is that as people pop the trunk/boot of their car at immigration and that it remains open the 20 meter drive to the customs checkpoint.

It’s an outlier behaviour for sure, but reminds me of the practices and rituals that will becomes prevalent as more of what we do in vehicles is automated and the notional barriers to the social acceptability of an activity fade. When doors can automatically open, when do they open? When a vehicle can be anywhere, where could it be? And who gets to decide?

And given the commercial, legal and moral forces that will shape what an automated vehicle could and should be – how many of those decisions will be made by the driver and how many (as with this border crossing) will be from a third party? What is the appropriate behaviour of your vehicle at a police checkpoint, traffic light or border crossing? And what vehicle behaviour would be optimal for the police, the transport authority, advertising agency or border officials? And who is the final arbitrator of whether that activity occurs?

And as a side-note, when a trunk can pop automatically how does it change what you decide to carry in the trunk?