On Sunday, March 18, Elaine Herzberg died after being hit by Uber’s self-driving car on the road in Tempe, Arizona. Out for a test-run, the video of the collisions suggests that there was a failure of the self-driving technology as well as the in-car driver meant to supervise the testing of the test drive. Uber has removed its self-driving cars from the road while cooperating with investigations, and discussions of the quickly advancing future of driverless vehicles have once again been stirred up in the press.
Recently, Mercedes-Benz stepped into the spotlight after making a bold statement concerning the design of their self-driving cars. The development of autonomous cars has presented a plethora of moral conundrums, one of which is the most ethical way to program cars to respond to emergencies. The dilemma, as presented in a previous article, is one of trying to determine the value of and prioritize human life. Mercedes has declared that they will “program its self-driving cars to save the people inside the car. Every time.” This declaration sheds light on a new issue: is it ethical for car companies to create technology that widens the gap between socioeconomic classes and threatens current societal values?
We’re constantly looking towards the future of technology and gaining excitement for every new innovation that makes our lives easier in some way. Our phones, laptops, tablets, and now even our cars are becoming increasingly smarter. Most new cars on the market today are equipped with GPS navigation, cruise control, and even with some intelligent parallel parking programs. Now, self-driving cars have made their way to the forefront of the automotive revolution.