Driverless vehicles: regulating moral programming in order to move forward

2 minute read
06 December 2016


This week, in a statement to the US highways regulator, Apple has confirmed that it is working on technology for a self-driving car.

In the statement, Apple talks about the 'significant societal benefits of automated vehicles', but also urges the regulator to continue 'thoughtful exploration of the ethical issues' of self-driving cars. 'Because automated vehicles promise such a broad and deep human impact, companies should consider the ethical dimensions of them in comparably broad and deep terms,' it said.

This urgency for regulation of the ethical complexities of driverless vehicles is echoed in a brand new white paper produced by Gowling WLG on behalf of UK Autodrive.

"The moral algorithm", which launches today, discusses on what basis the industry can programme a set of moral values into a driverless vehicle and urges for regulation that creates parameters for these preferences to work within.

Featuring input from leading experts across the automotive industry, the white paper offers a series of eight recommendations, including the creation of an independent regulator to balance the legality, safety and commerciality issues surrounding autonomous vehicles.

With automotive technology significantly outpacing regulation, the programming and testing of self-driving vehicles need to run in parallel with the development of industry-wide regulation to minimise harm to both man and machine and encourage industry growth.

With that in mind, this white paper is the second in a series which will cover many of the most interesting and significant developments within the dynamic automotive sector, including liability, infrastructure and connectivity.

I hope you find it a useful and thought-provoking read. If you have any queries or comments, don't hesitate to get in touch.

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