I’ve got one big question after Waymo’s autonomous car crash

Waymo’s computers may not have been at the wheel during the Arizona car crash last Friday, but eventually autonomous car developers will have to figure out just how human they dare let their AI drivers behave. While plenty of attention has been given to the technological barriers to self-driving cars, and a reasonable amount to the insurance and regulatory implications, there’s a big black hole in one other key element. That’s driverless car ethics.

Despite initial suggestions by the Chandler Police Department, Waymo says that its car was in manual mode at the point of the collision. That is, the safety operator at the wheel was physically driving the car, rather than the systems Alphabet’s company has developed. It certainly appears that there was little, if any, emergency maneuvering to avoid the oncoming vehicle by that operator, who sustained minor injuries in the crash.

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