“People did not want self driving vehicles to protect the occupants more than other road users,” Professor Nick Reed explains on this week’s Highways Voices podcast as he discusses how to program driverless cars ethically. “The participants in our survey and workshops are quite clear that other road users have not necessarily chosen to be exposed to the risk that these vehicles are presenting to the world, therefore, they should not be at an increased risk compared to the occupants of those vehicles who have chosen to board them.”

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Professor Reed has written a report for the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund on what driverless vehicles should do and whether they should ever break the rules of the road. “Should they always follow the rules of the road, or should they be allowed to break them?” he asks. “What are the circumstances, when you might want them to break the rules of the road, for example, crossing a double white line to avoid a pedestrian who stepped into the road.”

In the podcast, Prof Reed looks at a number of scenarios and discusses the public’s view of driverless vehicles, and commenting on how vehicles don’t necessarily work as well as some might think. “In some of the work I’ve been doing around AI, it’s interesting to see [how] it can give very convincing answers to questions unless you actually know the subject when you can start to spot the holes in the text that it produces,” he says. “I think there’s a parallel here with self driving vehicles because the way they behave out on the roads might look very convincing, but they might be behaving in strange ways in the way in what their programming is doing. So I think we need to have that confidence in how self driving vehicles perceive the world and how they are deciding how to drive.”

In the podcast you’ll also hear news from our partners ADEPT, the TTF, LCRIG and ITS UK and why the Road Emulsion Association aand the Road Surface Treatments Association jointly win Adrian’s Accolade this week.


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