Tag Archives: driverless cars

Ethics and Driverless Cars


Technology has the power to change lives in amazing ways. Advances in new technologies changes everything from medicine, to communications, to socialization, to how we live our daily lives. Yet, the impacts of technology on human life are not always examined beforehand. Rather, new technologies are adopted, integrated into businesses and lives, and we let the chips fall where they may.

However, not all companies are willing to let things just happen and then work out solutions later. One complex technology that will impact all lives is the emerging adoption of driverless cars – cars that operate without a human touch. Ford Company has recently hired ethicists to help deal with thorny issues of driverless cars. For example, what happens if an autonomous car is driving down the road, a mother suddenly steps into a crosswalk, the car cannot break, and if it swerves, there are other vulnerable people on the side of the road… what should happen? Where should the car veer? The human mind can have trouble with quick decisions. What is the expectation of technology in making life-and-death decisions?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Kick off the discussion by showing a video of Googles’ driverless car: http://youtu.be/CqSDWoAhvLU
  2. Next, have students brainstorm the ways in which this technology will impact businesses and lives.
  3. What industries are impacted by the new technologies?
  4. What will the impact be on human lives?
  5. Discuss the role of ethics in business. Have students brainstorm some of the ethical issues that may arise from driverless cars. List the issues on the board.
  6. Finally, show the video of Ford CEO, Mark Fields, discussing how Ford intends to address the ethical issues:


Source: Manufacturing Business Technology, CNN Money

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No Steering Wheels Needed: Driverless Cars


We have covered Google’s driverless previously on this Web site; the cars are now a familiar sighting on the streets in California (where they are legal). Recently, Google announced a new 2014 version of the driverless car, and this one does not have a steering wheel, gas pedal, break, or gear shift levers! The new design is a departure from the previous model which required passengers to take over in an emergency.

The company is building experimental, electric-powered vehicles (top speed 25 mph) that have two comfortable seats and big windows, but have none of the hassle of driving. A smartphone app is used to request the car which automatically picks-up and drives passengers to their selected destinations. The vehicles are equipped with electronic sensors that can scan 600 feet in all directions and the front-end of the car is built from a foam-like material just in case the computer fails and it hits a pedestrian. However, if you do need to stop it in an emergency – use the big red button!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. View the video of the 2014 driverless car: http://youtu.be/CqSDWoAhvLU
  2. Discuss the implications of the car with students. What industries will be impacted? How?
  3. Group discussion: define the characteristics of the target market for the driverless car – demographics, psychographics, behavior, etc.
  4. Discuss barriers to adoption. How can the barriers be overcome?

Source: New York Times, Google, other news sources

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