Mercedes-Benz comments on self-driving car crash dilemma

Image: Craig Berry

Mercedes-Benz Australia has affirmed comments made a week ago by its global head of driver assistance systems that an automated vehicle would, in the event of an imminent and unavoidable collision, act to protect its passenger.

Last week Christoph von Hugo, the car company’s manager of driver assistance systems and active safety, told Car and Driver that, “If all you know for sure is that one death can be prevented, then that’s your first priority.”

He was commenting on a situation similar to the “trolley problem”, where a car would have to select between two undesirable outcomes.

The Australian reports today that Mercedes-Benz’s Australian spokesman, David McCarthy, said the ethical question was interesting, and cars were designed to protection those inside of them.

“If there is someone literally jumping in front of you, in that circumstance, there’s nothing technology can do except reduce speed of impact,” he told The Australian.

If an impact is inevitable, it will reduce the speed, tighten seatbelts and prime the brakes.”