Mercedes Says its Future Autonomous Cars will Prioritize Life of Passengers over Pedestrians
Apparently owning a Mercedes means your life is more importantby Robert Moore, on
Have you ever heard of the “Trolley Problem?” Well, basically, it’s a Philosophical question that asks you to imagine that you’re riding on a runaway trolley. Up ahead there are five workers on the track. You can’t stop the trolley, but you can use the track interchange up ahead to divert the trolley onto a different track. The moral dilemma, however, is that there is one lonely worker on the second track. So, do you divert the trolley and kill one worker, or do you stay on the same track and kill five? It’s a tough question because either way there is death, but it’s up to you to choose how much. This question goes all the way back to the Mid-1960s, but with self-driving cars a hop, skip, and a jump away from becoming a reality, that question has become excessively relevant again: Should a self-driving car prioritize passengers or pedestrians in the event of an unavoidable accident? So far Manufacturers have avoided the question like the black plague for obvious controversial reasons, but Mercedes, on the other hand, has recently given an answer to this question, and you might not like it.
Speaking to Car and Driver at the Paris Auto Show, Mercedes’ Manager of Driver Assistance Systems and Active Safety – Christoph von Hugo – said that future autonomous cars from Mercedes (level 4 and level 5) will prioritize its passengers over pedestrians on the road, saying, “If you know you can save at least one person, at least save that one. Save the one in the car. If all you know for sure is that one death can be prevented, then that’s your first priority.”
I don’t need to tell you why manufacturers have constantly avoided this question – the controversy is out of this world regardless of your answer. Either way, it’s bad PR for your company as life is lost. But, what Hugo is saying is that no matter the circumstances – even if it’s a single mother pushing a three-seat stroller with infant triplets crosses into your path – your 2027 Mercedes S-Class will nail that woman and her three children so that you can live. That’s pretty ballsy, even for a brand like Mercedes.
Keep reading for the rest of the story.
To Hell with Those Unruly Children in the Street
That’s pretty much what Mercedes is saying. Those kids playing in the street, that mother with triplets, even that little old lady struggling to drag herself and her walker across the street, can all go to hell so long as the people inside a Mercedes make it home for dinner. I guess I never really figured that this would turn into such an issue, as today pedestrians and cyclists generally have the right of way in the event that you run someone over – why shouldn’t self-driving cars be programmed to understand this? Will all that change with the introduction of fully autonomous vehicles? Studies have shown that most people who favor autonomous vehicles will gladly sacrifice their life to save the many, but that might not happen if the rest of the world’s major auto manufacturers decided to follow Mercedes’ logic. I don’t know Mercedes; you just got one negative mark in my book. I’ll happily sacrifice one Mercedes customer and his car to save a small group of kids, just saying.
Read our full review on the 2016 Mercedes-Benz "Generation EQ" Concept here.
Source: Car and Driver