Symposium takes place on ethics and autonomous driving

Daimler has hosted a symposium to explore the legal and ethical aspects of autonomous driving to open dialogue between affected professionals.

The “Autonomous Driving, Law and Ethics” symposium took place on 23rd September attracting figures from science, politics and society in a debate on what implications driverless vehicles have on society as a whole and in terms of ethics and legality specifically.

Opening the symposium, Daimler’s Dr Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt discussed the advantages of autonomous driving in terms of convenience, reduced consumption and improved road safety along with the need to clarify various legal and ethical questions that could be a detractor from early implementation.

Commenting on the need to promote dialogue, Dr Hohmann-Dennhardt said, “The safety of every road user is our top priority for automated driving. This is not just about technical developments, but also the legal certainty and security that our customers need when it comes to ethical and data protection matters.”

Prof Julian Nida-RĂ¼melin, Professor of Philosophy at LMU Munich and former State Minister for Culture gave a keynote address on technology ethics along with the risks associated with the introduction of new technologies, asking such questions as whether the driver, vehicle owner or manufacturer is responsible for the vehicle’s autonomy and what criteria should be assigned to the new technology from a legal and ethical standpoint.

Since information and communication technology (ICT) plays such an important role in vehicle autonomy, the problem of security and data privacy was also addressed at the symposium with corporate data protection experts from Daimler being present to lead the discussion.

Autonomy innovation at Daimler

Daimler has already had significant technological success in the field of vehicle autonomy with the first 100km autonomous drive on public roads when the company’s Mercedes S500 Intelligent Drive fully autonomous vehicle navigated its way from Mannheim to Pforzheim two years ago. Since then, the company has received licensing to operate its Freightliner Inspiration HGV on US roads in Nevada.

Now, the company is promoting the non-technical aspects of vehicle autonomy through symposia and dialogue, led by Dr Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt. The company is also supporting interdisciplinary research to put the issue on a scientific footing and use the results to advance the debate within society. Around 1.5 million euros has already been invested into this aim since it commenced in 2012.

The debate on the ethics and legal aspects of vehicle autonomy are still open and will once again be examined at Daimler’s 2015 Sustainability Dialogue, an event taking place in Stuttgart on November 11th and 12th 2015.

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Human Factors

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