04/03/2019 Automated and autonomous vehicles: technological tests, policy challenges, ethical and legal concerns

The latest Automated Driving Roadmap released by ERTRAC shows the deployment of automated vehicles throughout a period of a few decades. The gradual deployment of automated vehicles imply that the automated vehicle becomes a social agent, taking decisions to regulate its interactions with other road users and static objects in its environment in a mixed traffic. Some situations will require simple and clear decisions, such as adjusting following distance. However, some other much more complicated situations will involve complex decision making related to potential accidents where life hazard is involved. In this context, the interactions of automated vehicles with other road users will necessitate some grand ethical rules, akin to unwritten norms and traffic culture that regulate driver’s behaviour consensually. Currently, the questions related to the ethical decision making by automated vehicles are reduced to pure dilemma cases where there is no clear ethical directive no matter what. However, research shows that there is a social dilemma and scepticism in public awareness and acceptance with respect to decision making in unavoidable accident situations.

It is not clear how public institutions and transport operators should approach disruptive technologies such as automated vehicles, and what kind of political measures or legislative solutions should be deployed. Several scenarios can be envisaged and many trials are currently performed worldwide, some of them also in EU member states. Legal “sandboxes” and technical road tests seem to be the most suitable solution for analysing short-term effects, but they cannot provide a deeper understanding of the impact these changes will have in a long period.

The workshop aims at introducing an interdisciplinary discussion on such topics at an international level. During the meeting there will be an introduction of the current state-of-the-art of the technologies in the European Union and a description of trials performed in some key European countries. Moreover, the issues raised by automated vehicles will be tackled under different perspectives (technological, legal and ethical). Speakers from private and public sector will discuss about the safety of means of transport, the assessment of the risks involved in automated vehicles, the cybersecurity of devices and vehicles and also the ethics underlying the deployment of artificial intelligence in this field.


Leave a Reply