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Self-Driving Cars:

Risk Constellation and Acceptance Issues


Armin Grunwald


Keywords: Risk assessment, autonomous cars, self-driving cars, self-driving vehicles, tech assessment, Tesla, AI, ethics, risks, automated driving, KIT, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, risk constellation, accidents, Technikfolgenabschätzung

Self-driving cars have become a challenging and discussed mobility option in Western societies in recent years. Technology is advancing quickly while simultaneously posing many ethical, legal, and social questions to the reflective scientific disciplines and to society as a whole. This paper focuses on the risk constellation of self-driving cars and draws some conclusions of their social acceptance. The final thesis is that an overly hasty introduction of self-driving cars motivated by economic competition might not only increase risk to road users but may also undermine the social acceptance of this technology. Hence, an ethical and legally responsible introduction should happen step by step in order to allow problems to be resolved as they emerge. Interdisciplinary cooperation between engineering, information technology, legal science, ethics, and the social sciences is needed to develop sound solutions to the many challenges of coping with risks and ethical issues of automated driving in a pro-active manner.

Prof. Dr. Armin Grunwald, Head of the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Head of the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag. For correspondence: <>. The author builds on his own work (fn 4) and on the experiences in the ethics commission mentioned in fn 5


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