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Automotive Ethics (AE) Laboratory 

Fully Automated Vehicles (AVs) can eliminate brakes and steering wheels, that is, human
drivers. AVs of the highest level may have human occupants, but no human drivers. The
acquired skill of driving a car or truck will migrate into the development of Automotive Artificial
Intelligence (AAI).

AAI will pilot cargo (including humans) through traffic more securely and efficiently than the
current system of manned vehicles. It will perceive and evaluate rapidly changing traffic
situations much faster and more comprehensively than a human brain. Hence, it will steer AVs
more competently and with fewer accidents.

The AE Lab builds on this vision. For us, AAI development is “computing for good.” We assume
AAI will increase road safety significantly, but we don’t anticipate a crash-free future. AVs will
have accidents, yet, unlike humans, they will have the computational ability to evaluate
different kinds of crash scenarios in real time.

Ethics enters the world of AVs with the possibility of these machines to decide between
preferable accidents. For instance, an AAI will compute whether to run the AV into a school bus
or off the road into a ravine. This research lab investigates the ethical options of AAI
programming for AV decision-making in edge cases.