Mercedes autonomous cars will protect occupants before pedestrians

Save the owner or save the others? Mercedes says the answer to the million-dollar autonomous question is quite simple

Long-term test review: Mercedes GLC - first report front cornering

Future autonomous Mercedes vehicles will prioritise saving their own occupants in no-win traffic situations, its safety executives have told Auto Express. 

The tricky moral question continues to be debated by lawmakers, ethicists and lawyers, but for Mercedes’s Manager of Driver Assistance Systems, Active Safety and Ratings, the answer couldn’t be clearer.

Driverless cars: everything you need to know

“If you know you can save at least one person, at least save that one. Save the one in the car,” Christoph von Hugo said in an interview at the recent Paris Motor Show.

“If all you know for sure is that one thing, one death, can be prevented then that’s your first priority.

“You could sacrifice the car, but then the people you’ve saved, you don’t know what happens to them after that in situations that are often very complex, so you save the ones you know you can save,” he argued. 

Engineering Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous systems to keep their occupants alive in physically and ethically tricky situations might be music to the ears of future buyers, but it’s not something that occupies much of von Hugo’s time. He’s far busier working to keep the cars out of those situations in the first place. 

“We believe this ethical question won’t be as relevant as people believe today. It will be occur much less often.

“There are situations that today’s driver can’t handle that, from physical stand point, we can’t prevent today and that with automated vehicles can’t prevent either. (But) it will be far better than the average driver.

• Driverless cars on UK public trial for the first time

“This moral question of who to save: 99 percent of our engineering work is to prevent these situations from happening at all.

“We are working so our cars don’t drive into situations where that could happen and drive away from potential situations where those decisions have to be made at all. 

“It’s not about miles. It’s about situations and there are an infinite number of them.”

How do you think self-driving car tech should act in the event of an unavoidable collision? Let us know in the comments...

Recommended

New 2021 Mercedes EQS: Hyperscreen infotainment system unveiled
Mercedes EQS Hyperscreen
Mercedes EQS

New 2021 Mercedes EQS: Hyperscreen infotainment system unveiled

The Mercedes EQS electric saloon will feature a new Hyperscreen infotainment system, which is a more powerful version of the brand’s existing MBUX set…
7 Jan 2021
New 2022 Mercedes T-Class van-based MPV spotted testing
Vans

New 2022 Mercedes T-Class van-based MPV spotted testing

The new Mercedes T-Class MPV is set to arrive in the UK in the first half of 2022, sitting below the V-Class in the German brand's line-up
4 Dec 2020
Facelifted Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe spied
Mercedes-AMG GT four-door - Geneva front
Mercedes

Facelifted Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe spied

Revised Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door coming in 2021 with plug-in hybrid power on the cards
10 Nov 2020
Mercedes to increase Aston Martin share holding to 20% as part of new deal
Aston Martin

Mercedes to increase Aston Martin share holding to 20% as part of new deal

Aston Martin to take further technologies from Mercedes in return for further shares in the financially battered British company
27 Oct 2020

Most Popular

New all-electric Hyundai Ioniq 5 arrives to take on Tesla
Ioniq 5 - front
Hyundai

New all-electric Hyundai Ioniq 5 arrives to take on Tesla

The new Ioniq 5 – the first model from Hyundai’s all-electric sub-brand – takes design influence from the 45 Concept and will be offered with two batt…
23 Feb 2021
Volkswagen Golf GTI ‘Edition 45’ anniversary model leaked
Volkswagen Golf GTI 'Edition 45' - front
Volkswagen Golf GTI Hatchback

Volkswagen Golf GTI ‘Edition 45’ anniversary model leaked

The Volkswagen Golf GTI will soon get a new special edition model to celebrate its Sapphire anniversary
23 Feb 2021
New 2021 Mercedes C-Class gets sporty image and S-Class tech
Mercedes C-Class - front
Mercedes C-Class

New 2021 Mercedes C-Class gets sporty image and S-Class tech

The fifth-generation Mercedes C-Class features a range of petrol, diesel and plug-in powertrains, with high performance AMG models set to follow in 20…
23 Feb 2021