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Driverless cars create a safety 'dilemma' between passengers and pedestrians

The idea of driverless cars has created a safety "dilemma" between passengers and pedestrians.

Driverless cars create a safety 'dilemma' between passengers and pedestrians

A new study has found that autonomous vehicles should be programmed to be "utilitarian."

The findings of the study were published in the journal Science on Thursday. For the study, the researchers presented some scenarios to about 2,000 people in a series of six surveys.

The surveys revealed that the majority of respondents want that it was necessary that driverless cars should be programmed to be "utilitarian," attempting to save the most lives, said Jean-Francois Bonnefon, a psychological scientist at the Toulouse School of Economics in France and a co-author of the study.

The study also revealed that many respondents said they would never purchase a vehicle that was programmed to be utilitarian. Around 76% of respondents believed it is more moral for a driverless vehicle to sacrifice one passenger rather than 10 pedestrians when it faced such a situation. But 81% of respondents said they would prefer to move around in a car that protected them and their family members at all costs.

The study was conducted between June and November. A total of 1,928 survey respondents were recruited online and presented with crash scenarios as well as questions.

"We were surprised that so many people expressed a strong moral preference for cars that would kill them, as passengers, for the greater good," Bonnefon said. "[We were] even more surprised that so many people would renounce buying a driverless car if there was a regulation in place that would force them to buy the self-sacrificing cars that they morally approved of! People think that utilitarian cars are morally right, but they prefer to buy cars that protect them at all costs."

The research team also included MIT professor Iyad Rahwan. The researchers said that driverless cars could help the environment, decrease traffic jams and reduce traffic accidents involving human error.