Skip to content Skip to navigation

Incorporating Ethical Considerations Into Automated Vehicle Control

Stanford News
IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems
October, 2016

Not only do automated vehicles need to meet specifications for technical performance, they also need to satisfy the societal expectations for behavior in traffic with humans. Societal expectations, such as accident avoidance and adherence to traffic laws, have their foundation in core moral issues found in philosophy and ethics. Thus, engineers designing control algorithms for automated vehicles can benefit from applying principles and frameworks from philosophy to drive design decisions. In particular, we use a set of ethical frameworks to map design decisions for a model predictive control problem to philosophical principles. Deontology, a rule-based ethical framework, motivates the development of constraints on the system. Consequentialism, a cost-based ethical framework, motivates the construction of the objective function. The choice of weights is guided by the concepts of virtue ethics and role morality to determine behavior for different types of vehicles. The strong link between ethical principles and actual vehicle behavior developed through this approach is demonstrated experimentally by implementing alternative design choices on a test vehicle in a simple driving scenario.

Publication Location: 
IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems