Ford's Executive Chairman, Bill Ford, has called on law-makers in the US to get together and sort the logistics behind self-driving cars.
Speaking with a gathering in the US captial, Washington D.C., The Detroit News reports Mr Ford believes the software and hardware required for cars to operate autonomously is the 'easy part', and that both state and federal governments need to catch up.
Ford, like many other carmakers, has promised to offer a fully-autonomous car for sale during the next decade, but Mr Ford said that cannot happen until the correct laws are in place.
Further, Ford raised an issue that has surfaced many times during the greater self-driving car debate: what does an autonomous car do when faced with a life-or-death decision?
“The difficult piece is going to be all the enabling things around it," Ford said.
"Things like ethics, things like regulations. Ethics in the vehicle itself, i.e. does the vehicle make the decision to save you, the occupant, or to save ten pedestrians if the right thing might be to hurt you, the occupant?”
Mr Ford said laws would need to be universal to prevent one carmaker from programming its 'ethical' software differently to the rest. “Those all have to be thought through and no one manufacturer is going to be able to program in one ethical equation that is different than the others. I mean, that would be chaos. And imagine the fun the trial lawyers would have with that too.”
While 'do or die' aspects of self-driving cars have been in the spotlight for several years, Ford reminded governments to consider professional drivers who will soon be out of a job.
As trucks, taxis, delivery and ride-sharing services switch to autonomous vehicles, drivers currently filling those roles will need reskilling. Ford said truck drivers alone account for 3.5 million jobs in the US.
"I suppose it’s no different than a conversation around artificial intelligence, but it’s all coming," Ford said. "It’s really hard to find a place or a forum or an institution that seems to be thinking through all these ramifications in a way that’s coherent and provides some answers.”
Mr Ford said his company would be forced to transform dramatically over the next decade as technology progressed, and that Ford Motor Company could play a leading role in reducing congestion in cities.
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