At today's Cabinet meeting, the Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Alexander Dobrindt, presented the report by the Ethics Commission on Automated Driving. In this report, the body of experts, headed by Professor Udo Di Fabio, a former Federal Constitutional Court judge, developed guidelines for the programming of automated driving systems. The Cabinet has adopted an action plan to implement the findings.
Mr Dobrindt said:
In the era of the digital revolution and self-learning systems, human-machine interaction raises new ethical questions. Automated and connected driving is the most recent innovation where this interaction is to be found across the board. The Ethics Commission at the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure has performed absolutely pioneering work in this field and developed the first guidelines in the world for automated driving. We are now going to implement these guidelines – and in doing so we will remain at the forefront of Mobility 4.0 worldwide.
The Ethics Commission's report comprises 20 propositions.
The key elements are:
- Automated and connected driving is an ethical imperative if the systems cause fewer accidents than human drivers (positive balance of risk).
- Damage to property must take precedence over personal injury. In hazardous situations, the protection of human life must always have top priority.
- In the event of unavoidable accident situations, any distinction between individuals based on personal features (age, gender, physical or mental constitution) is impermissible.
- In every driving situation, it must be clearly regulated and apparent who is responsible for the driving task: the human or the computer.
- It must be documented and stored who is driving (to resolve possible issues of liability, among other things).
- Drivers must always be able to decide themselves whether their vehicle data are to be forwarded and used (data sovereignty).
The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure's Ethics Commission comprised 14 academics and experts from the disciplines of ethics, law and technology. Among these were transport experts, legal experts, information scientists, engineers, philosophers, theologians, consumer
protection representatives as well as representatives of associations and companies.
The Ethics Commission's complete report can be found here: www.bmvi.de/report-ethicscommission