Computer Ethics - Philosophical Enquiry (CEPE) Proceedings

Conference Section

Robot and Vehicle Ethics III

Publication Date


Document Type





Autonomous vehicle manufacturers, people inside an autonomous vehicle (occupants), and people outside the vehicle (non-occupants) are among the distinct stakeholders when addressing ethical issues inherent in systems that include autonomous vehicles. As responses to recent tragic cases illustrate, advocates for autonomous vehicles tend to focus on occupant safety, sometimes to the exclusion of non-occupant safety. Thus, we aim to examine ethical issues associated with non-occupant safety, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and riders of motorized scooters. We also explore the ethical implications of technical and policy ideas that some might propose to improve non-occupant safety. In addition, if safety (writ large) is truly the paramount priority for autonomous vehicle advocates, we contend that autonomous public transportation should be considered as a more effective and less expensive way to improve public safety.

Custom Citation

Borenstein, J., Herkert, J., & Miller, K. W. (2019). Autonomous vehicles and the ethical tension between occupant and non-occupant safety. In D. Wittkower (Ed.), 2019 Computer Ethics - Philosophical Enquiry (CEPE) Proceedings, (14 pp.). doi: 10.25884/7576-wd27 Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.odu.edu/cepe_proceedings/vol2019/iss1/6