The million-dollar question, the life of a pedestrian or the life of the driver, what will AI choose


With the exponential increase in the interest of the masses regarding self-driving cars, and Tesla introducing a new age of these self-driving cars, it has turned into a worldwide phenomenon!

This has raised the million-dollar question: Will self-driving cars choose the life of pedestrians or the driver's life on encountering a hit situation?

To answer this question, let's take a look at 3 possible situations that can occur on the road with regard to the above situation-

  1. There are multiple pedestrians on the zebra crossing and one person in the car and it has to choose which life(ves) to save.

  2. There are multiple people in the car and there is one person on the road.

  3. There are many people in the car as well as on the road.

Situation #1

If there are multiple pedestrians on the zebra crossing and the car has one driver, the car should preferably take the side of the pedestrians and stop even if it were dangerous to the driver him/herself. Now keep in mind, that this is a matter of life or death, and even though it is extremely sad that one of the beings has to get hurt, the rational decision here seems to be that of saving the life of the majority. This follows the principle that - the majority wins. Yes, this is extremely controversial and I can see it as an exception in a few cases, one of which is listed below -

If the driver or the person in the car is a man of extreme honor, such as a ruler of a country, the prime minister/president, or positions similar to these that can cause great havoc if something were to happen to them.

Now again, this can call for otherwise if the situation is not a life-death but a mere accident, where the driver or the person in the car is going to suffer a very minor injury as opposed to the pedestrians who may die.

This is common because, often the cars that these individuals use, are strong, bulletproof, and have been secured to minimize the chances of a fatality.

Situation #2

Now, this is contrary to the first situation, where you have many people in a car as compared to the road. In this situation, I would argue that the ideal solution would be to slow down the car as much as possible so that both the pedestrian and the people in the car can get off with minimal injuries, but in a situation where this cannot happen, again, the most rational decision seems to be to crash into the pedestrian.

In this context, Although justified, it doesn't seem fair to lead to a fatality to save the majority, because, at the end of the day, that is one or more lives that is going to be destroyed. For this reason, there can be a few solutions to minimize the destruction caused by the car.


The first solution that I would like to present is that cars should be enabled to honk if and when they are in a situation where they are highly likely to cause an accident and hurt one or more person(s). This alarm can be produced so that the pedestrians have time to avoid danger, and while not everyone may be able to escape, there will certainly be a decrease in casualties.

The second solution regarding this context is that cars can be equipped with airbags which allow for a severe reduction in the injuries within the cars of the drivers themselves so that even if the cars were to stop, exposing the people in the car subject to injury, these airbags would slow down the ‘hit’, and hopefully reduce the number of wounds.

Diversion of cars from the road onto a pavement might sound preposterous but the point is, you are risking damage to the car rather than fatal injuries to the drivers of the pedestrians. Granted, this may cause severe damage to the cars, but is the condition of a car more important than a human life?

Situation #3

Now, this is a hit-or-miss situation, in this situation, there are many pedestrians on the road as well as people in the car. There is not a very nice way to put this, but here the car would most likely take a 50-50 chance, and stop or move forward. In this situation, the solutions mentioned above might be the best bet.


Self Driving Cars are a new concept and need extremely precise and calculated analysis, to develop them in the most efficient and above all the safest way possible. Through these steps, a new world can open up and this revolutionary change is one thing that everyone is waiting for!

Attribution: <a href="">Image by jcomp</a> on <a href="">Freepik</a>

Image by jcomp on Freepik