Advances in Vehicle Automation: Ethics and Technology

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Title: Advances in Vehicle Automation: Ethics and Technology
Authors: Sütfeld, Leon René
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Thesis advisor: Prof. Dr. Gordon Pipa
Thesis referee: Prof Dr. Peter König
Abstract: With the arrival of automated vehicles (AVs) on our streets virtually around the corner, this thesis explores advances in automated driving technology with a focus on ethical decision making in dilemmatic traf- fic situations. In a total of five publications, we take a multi-facetted approach to analyse and address the core challenges related to auto- mated ethical decision making in AVs. In publications one through three, we conduct a series of immersive virtual reality studies to analyze human behavior in traffic dilemmas, explore mathematical approaches to model the decision making process, investigate how the assessment methodology can affect moral judgment, and discuss the implications of these studies for algorithmic decision making in the real-world. In publication number four, we provide a comprehensive summary of the status quo of AV technology and legislation with regard to automated ethical decision making. Here, we discuss when and why ethical deci- sion making systems become necessary in AVs, review existing guide- lines for the behavior of AVs in dilemma situations, and compile a set of 10 demands and open questions that need to be addressed in the pursuit of a framework for ethical decision making in AVs. Finally, the basis for automated ethical decision making in AVs will be provided by accurate assessments of the immediate environment of the car. The pri- mary technology used to provide the required information processing of camera and LiDAR images in AVs is machine learning, and in particular deep learning. In publication five, we propose a form of adaptive acti- vation functions, addressing a central element of deep neural networks, which could, for instance, lead to increased detection rates of relevant objects, and thus help to provide a more accurate assessment of the AVs environment. Overall, this thesis provides a structured and compre- hensive overview of the state of the art in ethical decision making for AVs. It includes important implications for the design of decision mak- ing algorithms in practice, and concisely outlines the central remaining challenges on the road to a safe, fair and successful introduction of fully automated vehicles into the market.
Subject Keywords: automated vehicles; ethical decision making; moral decision making; behavioral ethics; trolley dilemma; self-driving cars; decision making systems; AI ethics; vehicular automation; traffic dilemmas; deep learning; adaptive blending units; activation functions; dilemma situations; virtual reality; autonomous vehicles
Issue Date: 14-Sep-2021
Type of publication: Dissertation oder Habilitation [doctoralThesis]
Appears in Collections:FB08 - E-Dissertationen

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