One of the big ethical questions about driverless cars has been answered – by one company at least.
Since the idea of autonomous vehicles was first mooted, questions have been asked about how they will be programmed to react to a situation where the car must choose what to do when, for example, a pedestrian is in the road but to avoid them the car might collide with another vehicle causing harm to the occupants.
Christoph von Hugo, manager of driver assistance systems and active safety at Mercedes-Benz, appears to have answered the question for his firm but saying “If you know you can save at least one person, at least save that one. Save the one in the car.
“You could sacrifice the car. You could, but then the people you’ve saved initially, you don’t know what happens to them after that in situations that are often very complex, so you save the ones you know you can save.”
Supporters of driverless cars say that such risks are small compared to the huge opportunities the technology brings to safety, because human mistakes are blamed for nine out of ten crashes on the roads.