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German government adopts ethics rules for automated driving

The German government is adopting an action plan to implement the recommendations of its Ethics Commission on automated driving. The expert panel, headed by the former Federal Constitutional Court Prof. Dr. Dr. Udo Di Fabio, developed guidelines for the programming of automated driving systems.

The report of the Ethics Committee comprises a total of 20 theses. The key points are:

  • Automated and networked driving is ethically necessary if the systems cause fewer accidents than human drivers (positive risk assessment).

  • In the event of danger, the protection of human life always has top priority.

  • In the case of unavoidable accidents, any qualification of people according to personal characteristics (age, sex, physical or mental constitution) is not permitted.

  • In any driving situation, it is necessary to clearly define and identify who is responsible for the driving task: the human being or the computer.

  • The driver in control (human or car) must be documented and the data saved (e.g. to clarify possible liability issues).

The ethics committee of the BMVI consisted of 14 scientists and experts from the fields of ethics, law and technology. The full report, in German, is available here.

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