Germany Adopts First Ethics Standards for Autonomous Driving Systems

Germany adopts first ethics standards for autonomous driving systems

Federal transport minister, Alexander Dobrindt, presented a report to Germany’s cabinet seeking to establish guidelines for the future programming of ethical standards into automated driving software. The report, was prepared by an automated driving ethics commission comprised of scientists and legal experts and produced 20 guidelines to be used by the automotive industry when creating automated driving systems. Shortly after its introduction, Dobrindt announced that the cabinet ratified the guidelines, making Germany the first government in the world to put such measures in place.

Autonomous driving systems become an ethical imperative if the systems cause fewer accidents than human drivers. Human safety must always take top priority over damage to animals or property. In the event of an unavoidable accident, any discrimination based on age, gender, race, physical attributes, or any other distinguishing factors are impermissible.

In any driving situation, the party responsible, whether human or computer, must be clearly regulated and apparent. For liability purposes, a “black box” of driver data must always be documented and stored. Drivers retain sole ownership over whether or not their vehicle data is forwarded or used by third parties.

While vehicles may react autonomously in the event of emergency situations, humans shall regain control during more morally ambiguous events.