Germany: Ethics Commission on Automated Driving presents its report

In Germany the Ethics Commission on Automated Driving set up by Federal Minister Alexander Dobrindt presented its report. In this report, the body of experts, headed by Professor Udo Di Fabio, a former Federal Constitutional Court judge, has developed guidelines for the programming of automated driving systems.


The key elements of the report are :

  • Automated and connected driving is an ethical imperative if the systems cause fewer accidents than human drivers (positive balance of risk).
  • Damage to property must take precedence over personal injury. In hazardous situations, the protection of human life must always have top priority.
  • In the event of unavoidable accident situations, any distinction between individuals based on personal features (age, gender, physical or mental constitution) is impermissible.
  • In every driving situation, it must be clearly regulated and apparent who is responsible for the driving task: the human or the computer.
  • It must be documented and stored who is driving (to resolve possible issues of liability, among other things).
  • Drivers must always be able to decide themselves whether their vehicle data are to be forwarded and used (data sovereignty).

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure’s Ethics Commission comprises 14 academics and experts from the disciplines of ethics, law and technology. Among these are transport experts, legal experts, information scientists, engineers, philosophers, theologians, consumer protection representatives as well as representatives of associations and companies.

Some of the world’s largest car companies, like Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW have their HQ in Germany, all of which are investing heavily in self-driving technology. German regulators have been working on rules for how self-driving vehicles should be programmed to deal with a dilemma.

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