Autopilot technology, are we ready yet?

Group 39

Driverless technology has become a new trend in the development of automobiles. Many automobile companies are competing for the market for driverless cars. It seems that it is getting closer and closer to us. However, what is the social acceptance of driverless cars and what are the ethical issues facing them in engineering? Who will be responsible for accidents caused by driverless cars? What impact will it have on society? All these are worth our consideration and discussion.

Safer, more equal, more environmentally friendly

Safety is the biggest advantage of driverless cars. The safety of driverless technology is far greater than that of manual driving. As can be seen from table 1, more than 40% of accidents are caused by operator’s mistakes, including drinking and fatigued driving. Self-driving technology fundamentally solves this problem, which means that popularization of self-driving technology can reduce traffic accidents by at least 40 percent. In the judgment of utilitarianism, this technology is of great value. In addition, according to Kant, anyone has the right to protect himself from harm unless he consciously and freely does something to be punished or chooses to take risks. The survey shows that after understanding the safety of driverless technology, the public has greater confidence in the popularity of driverless cars (According to a hit survey in Australia).

The popularity of self-driving technology has a high commercial and social value, which means that we need to set more norms for it. How can we set norms so that driverless cars technology can benefit human beings? This is the problem we have to face.

We also have to take into account that there are special groups of people in society who do not have the ability to drive cars, such as the elderly or disabled. The emergence of driverless cars gives people the same right to drive, which complies with the principle of Equality in Deontological (duty-based) ethics. Based on Kantian Theory which advocates equal concern and respect. For a large number of people, driving is a challenging and difficult thing. Driverless cars would be no need for drivers’ licenses or driving tests. Quality of life improvements for the special group if they have access to driverless cars. Disabled people and older citizens, as well as the very young, would be able to experience the freedom of car travel. To make most people enjoy driving, driverless cars need to be more perfect in functions to meet the needs of a wider range of people, which is a problem worth considering by product developers. Self-driving cars will improve driving efficiency in all aspects. The systems of driverless cars can be optimized in acceleration and braking to ensure fuel consumption is as efficient as possible. Therefore, autonomous vehicles have the potential to reduce energy use and carbon emissions. Moreover, fewer traffic congestions can also save fuel and reduce greenhouse gases from needless idling. The Future of Driving report from Ohio University states: “Driverless technology is expected to reduce emissions by 60%.”

Ethical Dilemma

Although driverless driving can bring many benefits (safer, more efficient,etc.), maintaining the stable functioning of the social system is far more important than improving productivity in the current social structure and productivity levels. Last year, in Arizona, Uber’s self-driving car carcollided with a pedestrian crossing the road, causing pedestrian death. The first accidental death of a driverless driver triggered public concerns and doubts about the technology of driverless driving.

The current discussion about the ethical dilemma of autonomous vehicles is mainly related to the famous “tram puzzle” in moral philosophy. “Tram problem” is a famous thought experiment proposed by the philosopher Philippa Foot in 1967 for criticizing utilitarianism. In the next few decades, moral philosophers have developed a number of variants. And if an automated vehicle is also facing an unavoidable traffic accident, who will the AI system choose to crash into? Should the “moral algorithm” of self-driving cars be based on the principle of reducing death or protecting the owner? This poses an ethical challenge to the algorithm of automated vehicles. Faced with this ethical dilemma, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab launched a website called “Ethical Machines” to collect data on situational choices for the public in the form of questionnaires. This moral machine has collected 11 million scenes answers. The MIT team pointed out that participants from the western region of the United States pay more attention to reducing the number of casualties value, that is, compared to the east, they agree more utilitarian choice. This means that the setting of “moral algorithms” must also consider the influence of moral-cultural pluralism.

For romantics, driving doesn’t just mean taking control of a mechanical tool. They insist that driving brings freedom, power and even creativity.when you hold the steering wheel, you think you can go anywhere in the world.They fall in love with the pleasure of operating a car.

Driving is also something that can be emotional, on a wedding or a funeral. “Who would send a loved one on their last journey by lonely, driverless hearse?”

But now they believe that self-driving cars threaten the fun of driving and eliminates the original car experience.

Kant’s Theory/deontology allows us to look at this change from our own point of view, I don’t drive, but I worry that in the future, our children will no longer appreciate the wildness and grandeur of the racing race, and when they get used to setting their destinations before getting on the car, they also lose peaceful and quiet time of a man driving a car, loitering aimlessly. Also, as virtue ethics states that people should be encouraged to develop good or desirable characteristics. Don’t we need to take care of the nostalgia of a large number of consumers?

Initial Decision

The problems faced by driverless technology, although likely to slow the development of autonomous vehicles, we still believe that autonomous cars will be accepted by people in the next three decades.

62 thoughts on “Autopilot technology, are we ready yet?

  1. An interesting treatment of this issue. Driverless cars is a hot topic and there are a number of advantages to adopting them, such as the reduction in accidents, which can be approved via utilitarianism and deontology – as you stated.

    Your argument against illustrated that many people derive pleasure from driving, but this seems case specific. The idea of setting off on holiday is more apealling than the daily commute.

    The argument against needs additional ethical support.

  2. 327. I totally agree with the opinions in this article that this brand-new technology is definitely revolutionary and will increase the efficiency of transportation significantly with the aid of computer technologies which will select the best route considering factors like traveling time and traffic conditions.
    However it is still far from practice since most of drivers suspect the reliability of self-driving technology, many just enjoy driving by themselves. Furthermore the perfection of this new technology must be carried on in order to solve the security and safety issues and increase its reliability. The legislation and ethic issues also need to be considered to eliminate the negative impact on employment and society.
    I think it is better to gives some figures to help demonstration, for example the numbers of taxi and bus drivers that will be influenced by the technology, and also it is worth to discuss the impact of this technology on the economic side.

  3. An interesting article to read upon, nevertheless a new era to catch up with the new automotive technology. A way to think out of the box. However, it presents both advantages and disadvantages considering personal safety and public welfare, something to pour upon in which human being versus the programmable vehicle ? Are we ready for the huge change in term of safety legislations associated to the legal responsibilities of each of us, occupants of the driverless car is having equal right with the road users … etc

  4. Great article and thought provoking. Would love to see how this will come to play though. Technological advancement is very important in human life and everyday activities but its scary the way robots and machines are being replaced with humans. Personally I would love to drive myself.

  5. In my opinion, I would not think it is a deciding factor considered that whose the responsibility is when there is an accident. Drivers are not only for driving but also serving the passengers, drivers can deal with unexpected problem such as disabled passengers, passengers with alcohol or sudden illness. fully self-driving cars are very likely to be introduced globally, but maybe only for part of the traffic line, there is still long way to go when software can really achieve what a driver can achieve.

  6. A really well thought out article regarding ethics surrounding autonomous vehicles. I have a comment about the regulations of the algorithms used for them. Will the code be the same for each car? Will it be a universal code and government implemented or enforced by law? Or will there be variation between companies or even countries? If not, incidents that may arise that are associated with the code for a particular companies may cause them to have worse sales. It may be that there should be a law enforced regarding the situations in which you should save the occupants or save the other road users?

  7. It is a great article which both side have some good example to support their view. However, I think the against side can elaborate a bit more about the responsibility and highlighting the core problem which cause the responsibility confusion. For the agree side, the statements are pretty good and convincing.

  8. I believe that the formation of ethical problems caused by traffic accidents is an immature performance of autonomous driving technology. However, as autonomous driving technology continues to evolve, it brings more and more convenience to people and it will cause less and less trouble for people. Therefore, I think that from the perspective of utilitarianism, autonomous driving should be developed.

  9. Autonomous cars may seem like the logical step in the evolution of personal transportation. Whilst at its infancy, the critical issues revolve around the ethical consideration on the safety of the passengers or pedestrians and economic implications on the loss of jobs. Under the circumstances, there should be some form of arbitration between the autonomous vehicle manufacturer and consumers to settle any disputes arising from any defects that lead to loss of human lives.
    The driverless cars offer the enormous prospect for driving to be much safer once the technology matures into dependable operation. It is hoped that someday it will take unpredictable human behaviour out of the equation and more lives could be saved from road accidents. In addition, there should be a sound job strategy for automation to enable us to put our human resources to good use.

  10. A good opening paragraph which leads to the major point interestingly. In the structure of this article, I am not in this field and after reading the first paragraph, I’d rather want to know something about the application of driverless car and in what degree. From them, I will read this article with my own thought preferably. The author put the article into two parts and I can see the author’s progressive thinking process.
    In my opinion of autonomous cars, It is valuable but not a mature technology, and if we want to popularize it, which has to overcome the problem about ethics, morals, society and so on. People have become accustomed to traffic accidents caused by human factors, but they still mind about the few traffic accidents caused by autonomous cars. It’s not because people hold prejudice against this technology, but people don’t realize the advantages and the prospects of driverless cars. Therefore, we should not only focus on the development of safety and reliable about autonomous cars but also strengthen the propaganda and guidance of this technology to eliminate people’s concerns.

  11. Such an interesting article! I have questions about the algorithm of driverless cars. Is the code for each vehicle the same? Will there be changes between different companies and countries? Does the law enforce the use of the same code? Besides, I think the government should issue new legal provisions for whether the driver should bear the corresponding responsibility.

  12. Autonomous vehicles set out with the aims to reduce car fatalities, but how sure is the technology to guarantee that a driverless car is safe? It is true that self-driving cars don’t get tired, angry, frustrated or drunk. But neither can they yet react to uncertain and ambiguous situations with the same skill or anticipation of an attentive human driver. I believe that the self-driving technology may still struggle to distinguish pedestrians from inanimate objects like bushes or poles or bags that blow into the road, which suggests that perhaps the two still need to work together, rather than being completely dependent on the technology.

  13. An interesting article on the ethics behind self-driving cars. What I think is that if autonomous cars are designed correctly, they will never breach the laws of the road and will therefore never cause a dangerous situation themselves. If a pedestrian is careless and places himself in harm’s way, it is his fault and nobody else’s. I think that these autonomous cars should be designed to prevent an accident wherever possible, but only if doing so does not place the occupants at risk.

  14. I favour the prioritisation of other road users because ultimately if you want to own and use a driverless car, you should be responsible for its errors. I believe that there is no way of measuring the value of one person’s life over another’s and as such, the autonomous vehicle should not be coded to try and do so.
    Surely, both the utilitarian and Kantian philosophies would argue that minimising the number of casualties, with preference to the car occupants in equal number scenarios is the morally correct source of action. The car occupants should be preferred in edge cases because, as discussed above, people are not willing to purchase cars that they know will not try and protect them.

  15. From my perspective view, the autonomous car would be increasingly popular in future, but the safety must be the most controversial problem. Although Tesla car had killed a woman, it is safer compared with traditional Manual driving, because it has several different sensors and supervising all directions of surroundings. Meanwhile, there is only one accident during thousands of tests. Technically and statistically, the autonomous car is safer. If the autonomous car kills somebody, it always makes people feel like that technology kill somebody instead of an accident. It’s hard to make people change this idea.

  16. I am really interested in the self-driving vehicle because I am the driver who not confident about my own driving skill. And I am also looking forward the life with self-driving vehicle. If the company could allow a self-driving car directly driving to my home everyday and pick up for going to work and school, we maybe have enough time to have a sleep and eat breakfast on the way to work and school. This tech could also reduce a traffic risk for some unpredictable issue, which could improve life safety and quality. Meanwhile, this tech also could reduce living cost for buying a car and maintaining it. I sincerely wish government could launch a law for protecting both owner and company’s right.

  17. I think that the potential harm from the prioritising other road user has not been considered. What would the car do if a pedestrian deliberately stepped in front of the car to cause it to swerve? New laws regarding pedestrian responsibility for car crashes would need to be introduced to ensure that if a pedestrian caused a crash they were responsible. Things such as the mental state and age of the pedestrian would then have to be considered (children, elderly, are they responsible for their own action if they are not mentally able?). Would drunk people then be allowed near roads due to the risk they may step out/fall into the road and cause a crash? The complexity of this leads me to believe that the amount of time needed.

  18. The era of autonomous vehicles is here to stay despite the many concern raised by the wide spectrum of society. Its technological advancement should be able to transform our lives in more ways than one. Given more time, the technology could be designed to optimize efficiency in acceleration and braking which helps to improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. In addition, there are much better ways to spend your precious time in your autonomous car doing things that you could only imagine when faced with a nasty traffic jam or slow moving traffic. Another technological advancement on GPS should complement the operation of the autonomous vehicles by directing the traffic in congested areas which offer the passengers a safe and smooth ride.

  19. An excellent article outlining the critical ethical issues surrounding the inevitable future of transport, with some interesting considerations. As you allude to, the responsibility in the event of an accident is a crucial consideration & one which I see manufacturers wriggling out of with ‘conditions of use’ clauses for some time.

  20. Great article. The economic argumeents for new technologies are the same regardless of the technology. However, autonomous vehicles are probably going to be the first widespread application of AI that brings new moral and legal arguments around responsibility for decision making and actions. Asimov’s laws do not solve this for the designer of the algorithm, so it is the designer who is responsible? What if the program learns for itself? I’m not sure of the answers but given Moore’s law is still holding true, society is likely to feel the weight of the moral and legal dilemmas brought about by autonomous cars and the AI applications that follow sooner rather than later.

  21. Very interesting take on this issue, looking at autonomous cars has already shown faults in the systems, the recent Tesla crash, for example, the car could have stopped itself, knew it was going to crash by warning the driver and still chose to do nothing. The Uber autonomous crash has the LIDAR company blaming the software and the software company blaming the LIDAR with no real closure for the casualty involved.

  22. The main ethical query is, is it right to enforce this on people who use cars. Who would ensure totally driverless cars, would anyone own a car or would a company run the cars like Uber. If so what happens to the tax from cars that the government gain where will the lost money be gained from. In the unfortunate event of a crash who is blamed and who would pay out for the crash. Autonomous cars have many areas where the development has happened so quickly the regulations and ethics haven’t been put in place or discussed as of yet.

  23. The article is well written and the benefits of driverless vehicles are hard to argue with. The moral dilemma is very interesting and who is responsible for the decision a driverless vehicle makes in safety-critical situations is a challenge. Many questions, in addition to the complexity both morally and technologically make me think an optimal solution for truly driverless vehicles is a long way off yet!

  24. A neat and tidy skirmish into one of many issues we are confronting with rapid technological change. Maybe a bit high-level and trying to touch on many issues, but that’s forgivable given that’s all that can be reasonably achieved in a short article.
    But, having said that, I would like to have seen a wider view taken of the real world that the manufacturers inhabit. The makers of these vehicles exist in a capitalist profit-motivated world, rarely are these entities seen to behave morally unless they feel the benefit in their deep pockets. One of the reasons why such decisions are taken via legislation

  25. A good paper. The loss for self-driving technique is inevitable for the development. We just overstate this situation. Every year many lifes loss because the traffic issues and we don’t make any traffic to be a hot topic for us to discuss. Because this tech is totally new and novelty, people show their anxious and worried to it. That can be totally understand. This ethical problem should be empahsised but it is not nessary for us to stop this tech development. We can encourage the government to launch this law to protect both rights!

  26. Interesting read, I think that the decisions made by car manufacturers will greatly determine the progression of the autonomous vehicle. Unfortunately for those passionate about the growth of the autonomous vehicle market, many car manufacturers are currently very wary about the effect autonomous vehicles will have on their sales. This is due to the fact that for car developers the main selling points of their vehicles are those relating to performance and this is the area at which manufacturers in the car industry compete with one another most fiercely. If motorists are willing to purchase an autonomous vehicle, however, their interest in the performance of the car which they’re buying is diminished and this scares manufacturers.
    I think before manufacturers have a grasp of how to compete in a market of autonomous vehicles developments in this technology will be limited.

  27. A good summary of a lot of the points to consider the ethics of autonomous vehicles. I think that while some of the possible benefits of self-driving vehicles are overstated here (e.g. elimination of all traffic jams), I agree with the argument that purchasing an autonomous vehicle could become a societal norm due to the ultimate significant safety improvements. The question is how do we get to that point, tackling the ethical questions as a society (for example, as raised in the article, how should we think about the decision criteria used by vehicles in minimising harm?), rather than leaving the questions to be answered purely by tech companies driven by a profit motive. Articles such as this are important in furthering this discussion, as the framework for how we think about the future of human-machine interaction is yet to be defined.

  28. This is a well-balanced article which raises a range of benefits and dilemmas posed by the advent of autonomous vehicles.
    There are powerful arguments in favour of autonomous vehicles, and I am particularly interested in the environmental ones: the ability to manage resources better and to limit further damage to our planet. Surely we all have a duty to embrace any advances in technology that will benefit future generations? As a society, we would do no better than to consider the use of this technology to improve our public transport systems first and foremost and not just in large cities. It would be fabulous to conceive of a time in the future when an individual no longer needed to own a car personally but could hop into an autonomous, shared taxi at the end of the street for journeys far and wide. The idea of an efficient road network with no congestion is hugely appealing, particularly when one is sitting in a huge traffic jam caused by current improvements to our motorway system.

  29. In my opinion, this is not an option, but an inevitable thing, that is, autonomous vehicles will replace manual driving. I believe that the accident rate of self-driving cars must be much lower than that of hand-driving cars. It is only in the early stage of autonomous vehicles development, people pay a lot of attention to this technology. Once a problem occurs, it will cause a large-scale discussion. Actually, the accident may not worse than everyday traffic accidents. It is completely ridiculous to deny all of the self-driving cars because of one or several accidents.
    In addition, the appearance of autonomous vehicles in a short period of time will lead to a large number of unemployed, this is inevitable but not serious. Just as the car just appeared, people in the carriage industry felt that this was the end of the world. But as time went by, the carriage pulled out of the transportation system, and former practitioners also found new jobs, such as car maintenance personnel, salesmen, and even car restaurant staff. As long as there is a suitable transition method, these laid-off workers will find a new career.

  30. The idea of ​​analyzing the effects of autonomous vehicles from the perspective of driving pleasure is novel and interesting, but if everyone can drive a car, it is better, people can explore new, self-driving fun.
    Second, the chances of hacking are not greater than drunk driving, or even much smaller. Therefore, I believe that the popularity of autonomous driving will reduce the risk of traffic accidents.

  31. There is no doubt that the self-driving vehicle can bring benefits to our lives. The only problem is that we need to treat it with a more cautious attitude. We need to do a lot of research before it is put into use, such as its impact on the existing industry and how to solve it? If these problems can find out the answer, it is a blessing to have a self-driving vehicle.

  32. I don’t deny that autonomous vehicles will have huge uses in the future, but, as this article says, the invention of such autonomous vehicles can cause problems, such as causing many people to lose their jobs, how to make autonomous vehicles and existing cars or road compatible. This still requires a lot of research and improvement, and even changes to regional and national laws, so the future of autonomous vehicles is still difficult and far away

  33. I care more about its cost-effectiveness than other aspects of self-driving vehicles. In my opinion, most of the problems with self-driving vehicles now focus on ethical issues, but the technology used in autonomous vehicles is inherently expensive, which can cause most consumers to be unable to support them. In order to let people enjoy the fun of driving it, maybe we should first focus on lowering the technical threshold and reducing its price.

  34. Interesting article about the currently very important issue. In my point of view, the self-driving car is still a valuable technology for the future. The aircraft already have autopilot fiction, why not the car? The autopilot is not perfectly developed, the public need to give the technology more time to develop. In terms of responsibility, the autopilot car cannot drive without a driver, and the driver still has the main responsibility for the accident as the driver agreed the terms and conditions when they using the autopilot. In conclusion, the autopilot still valuable and it is worth to develop.

  35. Interesting article. However, I believe that driverless cars are the future. The point about the deaths caused by autonomous vehicles is, in my opinion, irrelevant, as media exposes these accidents and everyone thinks it is a big deal while thousands of auto accidents happen every day caused by careless drivers and it has become a natural thing.
    With an improvement in the technology, further generation autonomous vehicles are going to be even safer, save fuel, time and will require no intervention. It is just a matter of time when governments and lawmakers catch up and we will not be surprised by cars without a driver

  36. Is good to have the autonomous car to reduce accident due to human mistake. But as a driver, we should fully aware and focus on the road as the sensor might be a malfunction or cannot detect the obstacle. for me, I still do not trust the capability of the autonomous car as the car still drive with other non-autonomous cars. besides that, the autonomous car is very expensive such as Tesla. I think the fully autonomous car is a cool invention because now everyone can drive. My concern is what will effect toward driver supporting sector such as taxi?

  37. Automated driving technology undoubtedly represents the future of the transportation system: a more complete and intelligent system. But like the problems that exist in many systems today, the emergence of autonomous driving technology is accompanied by the danger of privacy leaks. When your daily schedule and location are exposed, can you still get on the road with peace of mind?
    Second, the chances of hacking are not greater than drunk driving, or even much smaller. Therefore, I believe that the popularity of autonomous driving will reduce the risk of traffic accidents.

  38. Very good article! The discussion of the ethical issues of this technology can lead to a lot of reflection. Autopilot technology may be inevitable because it will become more mature over time and more suitable for daily life. What we need to be more vigilant is an ethical accident. If the car makes a mistake, who is responsible? This problem, automakers and consumers alike want to be irresponsible.
    We must be alert to the transfer of responsibilities and mutual deduction in the process, which will guide the atmosphere and development direction of the entire market.

  39. It is interesting to note that this article discusses the issue of driving pleasure, which is a very interesting view. According to my own understanding, the development of new technologies is unstoppable, but not all human drivers have to lose control of the steering wheel. In some specific work, “humanization” is irreplaceable. The number of taxis or bus drivers may drop significantly. However, they have the opportunity to change to a higher-end career, such as racing, which is an industry that can never be replaced by autonomous driving.

  40. Like this article, but the discussion of the ethical issues of this technology may be a bit too absolute. People have different judgments about morality, just as people treat ordinary people and their children differently. Morality is not a zero-to-one problem. Perhaps autonomous vehicles can provide different coping styles in different scenarios, allowing users to make choices that are consistent with their own moral values.

  41. Self-driving cars are undoubtedly a great innovation, but when Al completely controls the car, the ethical issues that follow are inevitable. When the AI ​​faces an inevitable traffic accident, what choices will be made, and how the basis for this choice is set, based on the principle of reducing casualties or distinguishing the degree of protection in humans, or always placing passengers safely at the first one? These are classic ethical issues.

  42. In addition to the aspects mentioned in the article, the autonomous driving system itself is also worthy of attention. After all, AI is a program, it is code. What happens if the program is hacked? If the code is wrong, can it be stable? If the components are damaged during driving, can it be as calm as a driver with real driving experience, or will it threaten the safety of passengers? These problems cannot be ignored and are worth pondering

  43. Self-driving cars are definitely the future of driving technology. However, at this stage, the driver is still required to supervise the driving of the car, and the appearance of a car completely controlled by the AI ​​may take longer. This provides a new direction for the employment of existing drivers, who can become professional supervisors and assist the work of the automatic driving system.

  44. At this stage, it may be unrealistic to let the self-driving car go on the road, but I think it is possible to start experiments from some special road sections, such as transporting goods or replacing human drivers in remote roads where few pedestrians pass, which can be used in practical applications. The problem of a technical exposure can be corrected one by one, which can also reduce the cost of trial and error.

  45. I was impressed by the debate around vehicle manufacturers’ social, moral and ethical responsibilities when developing this new technology versus the need for legislation. There is so much more to consider and it is good to see that our engineers of the near future are involved in debates about new technologies from an ethical standpoint.

  46. The benefits of autonomous vehicles are well argued here and I definitely see it as the future of transport.
    For me, though the biggest dilemma as discussed is in the event that a choice needs to be made by the software to kill the driver or pedestrians how can we ethically allow a computer to make this decision and who would be to blame? The driver who should have been overseeing the automated driving or the software and therefore the manufacturer. Every situation would be different and I feel the human emotion as argued by Hume would rule in this situation and something I don’t feel a computer can perform such a task.

  47. This article is quite interesting but it has not developed deeply with four theories. But I think the future trend will concentrate on the population of the autonomous vehicle. The ethical debate is always involved with a new technology which can truly change the lifestyle of human beings. The action to moderate the wrong aspect in ethics should be decided by the public, government and the producers. The common duty could push the market life to a better-balanced point.

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