Saturday, August 3, 2013

More on Autonomous Vehicles -- the Robot Car of the Future Could Kill You

With autonomous vehicles such as the Google Car, there are potential benefits beyond reducing accidents and increasing traffic flow. We know that such cars could save time and fuel through more efficient driving and fewer traffic jams. There would be reduced accidents. And the technology could enable many groups — think, the elderly and handicapped — with the freedom of greater mobility. With BMW, Audi, Volvo, Mercedes and others hard at work on autonomous vehicles, we could see improvement in the environment by reducing greenhouse gases and pollution; and more.

Google’s driver-less cars are street-legal in three states, California, Florida, and Nevada. Eventually automated vehicles might be able to drive better, and more safely than you can -- a robot does not suffer from a drink driving problem, has no distracting texts to read, and has better reflexes.

Such technologies of course can benefit aerial vehicles, such as passenger plans and drones.

But this article in Wired explores some nuances of the ethical implications of robot cars.

On a narrow road, your robotic car detects an imminent head-on crash with a non-robotic vehicle — a school bus full of kids.... Your car, naturally, swerves to avoid the crash, sending it into a ditch or a tree and killing you in the process.

Ethical issues could also manifest as legal and policy choices. For instance, in certifying or licensing an autonomous car as safe for public roads, does it only need to pass the same driving test we’d give to a teenager — or should there be a higher standard, and why?

These kinds of questions will be addressed, by our legislature or by our courts.

No comments:

Post a Comment