While the entire efforts of launching autonomous cars are based on the simple premise of reducing road casualties, there is no way one can guarantee complete elimination of the same. And it's here that the moral complications of it come into the picture - that of who is to be blamed when a self-driving car meets with an accident claimed Business Insider. If that's not enough, the recent announcement that Mercedes-Benz self-driving cars will prioritize occupant safety over pedestrians has stoked a fresh twist to the debate.
Mercedes on its part have stated their stated policy for self-driving cars might seem cruel but it at least aims to save the lives of some. It also explained the above thought process will be only applicable in such crunch situations where the car will have to decide one of two undesirable scenarios, whether to save the occupant or the pedestrian.
"If you know you can save at least one person, at least save that one. Save the one in the car," the manager of driver assistance systems at Mercedes-Benz, Christoph von Hugo said during the Paris auto show. "If all you know for sure is that one death can be prevented, then that's your first priority."
As such, the stated aim of the Mercedes-Benz self-driving cars will be to avoid such crunch situations in the first place. Also, with the majority of deaths caused in the US blamed on human error, Mercedes-Benz self-driving cars aim to bring about a drastic reduction in such figures with automated systems taking over the monotonous aspects of driving.
Mercedes also hope the self-driving tech will ensure there is no lapse in concentration that human drivers are prone to. This is more applicable to long drives or when the driver is fatigued, such as after a hard day at work.
However, there still lies the scope, howsoever small it might be for the legal community to cry hoarse if there are any injuries or even death caused by a self-driving car. Sure there is no way the role of the automaker can be undermined in such situations, as Tree Hugger mentioned. And it's perhaps for such a reason that car makers such as Audi and Volvo had stated they will take full legal responsibility for any issues that their respective self-driving cars might run into.