Fully Autonomous Cars May Never Actually Be Allowed

The minefield of moral quandaries surrounding autonomous cars that are involved in accidents could effectively render the race for full autonomy pointless
Fully Autonomous Cars May Never Actually Be Allowed

Self-driving cars may never be allowed to exist in the way they are currently being imagined, according to BMW’s special representative to the UK, Ian Robertson.

Speaking at the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) Summit, he said that the morality surrounding how artificial intelligence would make life-or-death decisions, and whether humans could really accept the cold logic of any data-based choice that ended someone’s life, however unintentionally, could see self-driving cars limited to certain road types. He’s quoted as saying:

“Imagine a scenario where the car has to decide between hitting one person or the other — to choose whether to cause this death or that death. What’s it going to do? Access the diary of one and ascertain they are terminally ill and so should be hit? I don’t think that situation will ever be allowed.”

Urban areas could be made to fit the needs of self-driving vehicles
Urban areas could be made to fit the needs of self-driving vehicles

At present, BMW’s autonomous test vehicles on UK roads regularly run 660-mile routes, but the human at the wheel needs to take control an average of three times per journey. Robertson envisages that governments, however eager they are to get to the front of the technological arms race now under way, will eventually set limits. He explained:

“Then there is the overarching consideration of the regulators that we need to consider. In the UK, the government is encouraging autonomous testing — even if some of its fundamentals go against the Highway Code, the fabric of our laws. They know we are in a race to take leadership and that opening up to testing could have significant benefits.

“But I believe that in the long term, the regulators will step in and set boundaries about how far we can go. It might be to allow it only on motorways, as they are the most controlled environments.

“Or perhaps they’d essentially ‘rope off’ parts of cities to allow autonomous cars into controlled areas, where the consequences for pedestrians are controlled.”


Thomas Jackson 1

This made my day.

08/08/2018 - 17:47 |
125 | 1

Exactly the same. So yay if I have my license I can actually drive although it might be a electric car :(

08/08/2018 - 19:28 |
20 | 0

Humans FTW

08/08/2018 - 22:03 |
17 | 0

if you think about it, autonomous driving is basically like playing forza with all the assists enabled and on easy ai difficulty.

08/09/2018 - 01:06 |
8 | 0

89 upvotes for saying “this made my day” what happend to Car Throttle

08/09/2018 - 15:11 |
3 | 4
Matt O'Neill


08/08/2018 - 17:48 |
14 | 1


08/08/2018 - 18:10 |
7 | 0
A Car Guy

Whoop whoop!

08/08/2018 - 17:54 |
4 | 0
luke c

Doesn’t mean full electric won’t be a thing though :/ I’ll miss the sound of my 20V 1.8T one day, and that day will be a sad one…

08/08/2018 - 17:55 |
3 | 0
Thomas Jackson 1

In reply to by luke c

At least we can still drive!

08/08/2018 - 17:59 |
3 | 0

Autonomous cars crash for two reasons,

  1. Other Human drivers
  2. Poor infrastructure/maintained roads.
    Basically, the problem isn’t autonomy, it is its surroundings. Nix human drivers, and maintain the roads and we wouldn’t be having this discussion.
08/08/2018 - 18:33 |
5 | 4
German Perfectionist

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

And neither fun behind the wheel.

08/08/2018 - 18:51 |
5 | 1

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

But what about human pedestrians? That’s the problem here.

08/08/2018 - 18:53 |
1 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

That’s overly simplistic. The tech is far from being perfect as of yet. Your theory will only be valid once autonomy is perfected.

08/08/2018 - 22:02 |
0 | 0
Ben Anderson 1

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Humans write the software. Therefore it has the potential to be as good as a human but for the foreseeable future, it will never be as good as a human. Computers are unfathomably stupid.

08/09/2018 - 07:10 |
2 | 0
Fully Autonomous Cars May Never Actually Be Allowed
Dreaming In Cars


08/08/2018 - 18:48 |
4 | 0

Really the only way we can have fully autonomous cars is if we completely segregate them away from humans. This means dedicated roads for these cars where there are no humans or human-driven cars to worry about. Oh wait… isn’t that called a train?

08/08/2018 - 18:53 |
61 | 0

Or a plane

08/08/2018 - 22:54 |
0 | 0

or just autonomous lanes, similar to bus lanes

08/09/2018 - 05:24 |
0 | 0
RWB Dude


08/08/2018 - 20:09 |
1 | 1

I think this is good news people who dont like driving should use a bus train or taxi

08/08/2018 - 20:13 |
10 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Or a cab?

08/09/2018 - 01:52 |
1 | 0

first a new supercar with pop-up headlights and now this! i like where the world is headed

08/08/2018 - 20:25 |
13 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Next thing someone figures out how to make a DSG that also has a manual mode with clutch!!!

08/09/2018 - 12:58 |
5 | 0


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