Steps Towards Real-world Ethics for Self-driving Cars: Beyond the Trolley Problem
Book chapter, 2021

Research on self-driving cars is transdisciplinary and its different aspects have attracted interest in general public debates as well as among specialists. To this day, ethical discourses are dominated by the Trolley Problem, a hypothetical ethical dilemma that is by construction unsolvable. It obfuscates much bigger real-world ethical challenges in the design, development, and operation of self-driving cars. We propose a systematic approach that connects processes, components, systems, and stakeholders to analyze the real-world ethical challenges for the ecology of socio-technological system of self-driving cars. We take a closer look at the regulative instruments, standards, design, and implementations of components, systems, and services and we present practical social and ethical challenges that must be met and that imply novel expectations for engineering in car industry.

Ethical Principles

Future Transportation

Smart Cars

Autonomous Driving


Ethical Guidelines


Artificial Intelligence

Self-Driving Cars



Tobias Holstein

University of Applied Sciences

Gordana Dodig Crnkovic

Chalmers, Computer Science and Engineering (Chalmers), Interaction design

Patrizio Pelliccione

Testing, Requirements, Innovation and Psychology

Machine Law, Ethics, and Morality in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (Steven John Thompson (Ed.))

1799848949 (ISBN)

Areas of Advance

Information and Communication Technology

Subject Categories


Human Aspects of ICT

Embedded Systems

Driving Forces

Sustainable development


Basic sciences



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