Rules for self-driving cars being drawn up
LONDON: New rules to let self-driving cars break the speed limit or mount kerbs to avoid accidents are being drawn up in a “digital highway code”.
And in a radical legal move, the car maker could be punished if a driverless car speeds without justification or causes a fatal accident.
One key question in an official review just launched is whether automated vehicles should, like human drivers, be allowed to break the rules for a greater good.
Should they be programmed to mount the kerb to avoid a child in the road, let an ambulance go past, or if two cars are stuck in a narrow street?
Or should they be instructed never to swerve on to the pavement to avoid someone in the road because it could “endanger innocent passers-by on the pavement, simply to avoid a person who is at fault”.
Other dilemmas include whether a car should be programmed to deliberately run over one pedestrian if that avoids hitting a larger group.
Officials are also asking whether a driverless car should be allowed to edge through pedestrians that block its path. They fear a vehicle might never get anywhere if pedestrians know it will always stop when they walk in front of it.
A public consultation on the major issues is part of a three-year project to get driverless cars on Britain’s roads by 2021.