1.         An Introduction
to Autonomous System

Autonomous
system changes its behavior in response to precipitous events during working. During the recent
years the demand for these systems is enhanced incredibly, with high profile
successes in both civilian and military applications. This system is truly
transformational, favors both cost and risk reduction. The main advantage of
this technology is to enable its capabilities in the areas directly where human
control is not possible (DP
Watson, 2015). In most cases
there is a vast panorama of autonomy, as the extent of human interaction with
the system can vary; controlled and supervised. Automatic system can only
perform a limited set of functions instructed by its operator, while fully
automated system performs a wide range of functions without human inputs, key
advantage is to think and make decisions independently (McCarthy, 2009).

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The key advantages of the
autonomous system depends largely upon its utilization, although there are
several advantages that are widely applicable. Research in autonomy mainly
depends upon its particular application domain. Autonomous systems can perform
a wide variety of tasks in cost effective way as compared to humans. Their key
advantage is to eliminate human error and perform the tasks in accurately and
efficient way.

In contempt of its benefits,
the autonomous system is the debatable topic on ethics of its widespread
implementations. This paper will discuss some of the important details related
to ethical and legal concerns of autonomous road vehicles – in addition to the
potential causes of mistrust in the social acceptance of these systems.

1.1       
Autonomous
Road Vehicle

A vehicle which is capable of performing the
functions of ordinary vehicle without a human operator and are legally allowed
to travel on public roads. These vehicles include buses and trucks in addition
to passenger vehicles (such as Google’s self-driving car and Tesla’s Autopilot
function). Table 1 illustrates different levels of autonomy within road
vehicles.

level

Name

Narrative definition

Lateral & longitudinal
Vehicle motion control

Object and event detection response
(OEDR)

Operational design domain
(ODD)

0

No Automation

Full time performance by human driver of all aspects of the
dynamic driving task

Human driver

Human driver

Human driver

1

Driver Assistance

Driver-assistance system for either steering or
acceleration/deceleration only

Human driver & system

Human driver

Human driver

2

Partial Automation

Driver assistance system for both acceleration/deceleration.
Human driver performs all remaining aspects

system

Human driver

Human driver

3

Conditional Automation

All automatic but human driver will respond appropriately to
request

System

System

Fallback ready user

4

High Automation

Automated driving system for all aspects of the dynamic
driving task, even if human driver does not respond appropriately to a
request to intervene

system

system

system

5

Full Automation

Automated driving system for all aspects of the dynamic
driving task, under all roadway and environmental conditions

system

system

system

Table
1: SAE Levels of
Driving Automation for On-Road Vehicles (September 2016)

Fully automated vehicles are capable of
handling all driving jobs without any input from the passenger, so human is
powerless to change the decision of autonomous system. Some researches tell us
over 90% of road accidents are due to human error, so a fully automated vehicle
reduces the accidental risk. It has been predicted that the autonomous vehicles
could reduce congestion and emission (POSTNOTE 2013).

This paper will discuss on fully automated cars
for personal use and ethical, social and legal concerns associated with these
driverless vehicles. An autonomous driverless vehicle (level 5) is considered
to be fully automatic vehicle for non-commercial use and a human driver is used
to describe a car with no automation.

According to ERTRAC, by 2030 all the vehicles
on the public roads will be fully automated as shown in Fig. 1

                        

2.        Are Autonomous systems a ‘Smart’ Move

Before autonomous systems becomes
part of our daily life, various legal and ethical concerns must be debated and
clarified. This section will provide a comprehensive overview of some of the
concerns related to fully automated vehicles.

2.1      Social Acceptance

The fatality rate in the developed countries is declining
and in the developing and undeveloped countries it is climbing up. Current
research trends indicate, road accidents will be the fifth leading cause of
death by 2030 (World
Health Organization, 2013).

Automated
driving vehicles have tedency to resolve these issues by increasing safety on
the public roads while decreasing the traffic congestion, gas emission and fuel
consumption. (Anderson et
al., 2014). In fact, accidents have already took place in
partially autonomous vehicles such as a collision between Google’s self-driving
car and a manually driven bus which occurred in February 2016 (Krol, 2016). In fully
autonomous cars the main reason for the accident is,drivers have no option to manual
override, could have a dominent influence on the lack of social acceptance.

Some recent studies displays a little bit positive picture of the public
opinion about the fully automated vehicles (Begg, 2014; Casley et al., 2013;
Howard & Dai, 2014; KPMG, 2013; Missel, 2014; Payre et al., 2014).

2.2     Ethical Considerations

Autonomous vehices are more safer than human drivers but this is not always
true and collision between the level 5 vehicles will most probably happen. An
automated car cannot be programmed to carry out the correct actions on every
scenario, as the decisions it make will largely depends upon the algorithams,
which is totally different from a decision how a human driver reacts to the
same scenario. There are many questions to consider on ethical implications od
driverless vehicles, and the answers will vary from person to person. Some questions
include;

·        
Who decides what will be the ethical
choice in each scenario?

·        
Should automated vehicles only
protect passengers in all scenarios?

·        
Which is better option; fully
autonomous or partially autonomous?

·        
Who will be responsible for
certification of autonomous system

2.3     New Policies and Ethical implications

          2.3.1       Autonomous vehicles

This is the need of hour to
think about the reality of autonomous system and also their positive and
negative impacts. Autonomous vehicle technology is still a new concept, where
fully automated cars will not be available to the public before 2030. There are
no current legislations how to deal with the road accidents even with one
automated car.

The Vienna Convention on
Road Traffic (1968) is used to govern UK traffic, and this states that a driver
must be in control of his vehicle (POSTNOTE, 2013). This rule is not applied directly
to the autonomous vehicle, so amendment in the rules is must to accommodate the
wider scale deployment.

Before the fully automated
cars launched, these must be tested on the public roads. The department for
transport (DfT) is keen to develop these vehicles, and has reviewed his current
legislations on testing autonomous vehicles on public roads. According to the
current UK rules, these will not prevent vehicles being tested on public roads (Department
for Transport, 2015).

3.0     Conclusion

Before the autonomous
vehicles fully launched, their public perception should be changed. The UK government
is taking initiative to review his current rules and allowed to test the
vehicles on public roads. People has still reservations on accepting these
vehicles.

A comprehensive set of
rules are not developed to ensure that the autonomous vehicles makes the
correct and ethical decision in every scenario. An autonomous vehicle will
never be 100% perfect, and as a result the critical decisions are made regarding
whose lives are put at risk.

Despite of uncertainty in
some of above questions, insurance companies are likely to reduce premiums due
to the projected decrease in the number of accidents from the introduction of
autonomous vehicles.

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