Autonomous Vehicles: Technological changes and ethical challenges Case Solution & Answer

Autonomous Vehicles:Technological changes and ethical challenges Case Solution 

Case summary:

Being one of the leading and valuable US based Multinational Corporations, General Motors made an accouterments in 2014 that the Super Cruise – semi-autonomous technology would be releasing in the upcoming 2016 Cadillac CT6 model. But prior to the release Super Cruise, the world saw its first death involving semi-autonomous technology with Autopilot of Tesla. This tend to highlight the business, regulatory and ethical considerations related to the semi-autonomous technology. Because of the launch of same technology by other players like Tesla has been known to provide GM with an insight regarding customer responses, and the challenges or concerns raised. This would significantly allow GM to find the best interest of customers in purchasing the semi-autonomous vehicles. In addition to semi-conductors autonomous, the Tesla’s Autopilot had saved lives through a significant reduction in the number of deaths related to automobile incidents.

The case sets out to investigate the decision whether and when General Motors should release semi-autonomous technology. To deal with the issue, the company should consider Advanced Driver Assistance System that would help General Motors to mitigate the potential risks associated with driving. The company should include use of sensors which is already a part of vehicle designing of GM. Additionally, the company should make strategic alliance with the government in the development and implementation of safety standards, which in turn would allow GM to meet the regulations and will provide a competitive advantage.

Problem Statement:

Despite the importance of autonomous technology in life-saving and injury prevention, the concerns regarding the misuse of technology might lead to fatal consequence. There was also uncertainty about the legal and regulatory environment followed by the presence of a myriad of ethical consideration. Thus, the challenge was associated with finding a possible way for navigating the ambiguity and determination of Super Cruise future.

Semi- Automated System Problem Identification and Analysis – CSR


According to Corporate social responsibility concept, a firm needs to be socially responsible not only to the shareholders but to different stakeholders of the society i.e. customers, suppliers, government, community etc. Companies should analyse their impact on the economic, environmental and societal aspects by following the corporate citizenship (Chen, 2020), another name of CSR. GM decision about the launch of Super Cruise – a semi-autonomous technology can be analysed using the key theories of morality.

First of all, the management at GM has to comply with key responsibilities which exist beyond the company’s boundaries and it has commitments as company leader, according to the four spheres of morality (Joseph, 1992). It means that General Motors management has to be careful about the employees, customers, suppliers, government and the community overall. Providing a safe workplace for the employees is the key focus of the company. One of Tesla’s pilot died in a crash, whereby, he was driving an automated Tesla vehicle, which created a hype in social media about the safety concerns. The Tesla’s management must have taken precautionary measure to keep the work environment protective for its employees.

Secondly, in regard to the four spheres of morality, General Motors is also ethically responsible beyond its internal boundaries. The company’s automated vehicles can affect the pedestrians or the passengers due to accidents caused by failures in the automated systems. So, GM has to take all the precautionary measures in keeping its automated vehicle solution safe and thereby reducing the risk of accidents.

Deontological and Teological Analysis

The deontological theory helps to identify the difference between right or wrong. According to the theory, there are certain universal rules or the societal standards, which needs to be followed no matter what the situation is. The requirement of deontology is to do what is right according to universal law and if something is wrong, the just don’t do it. (Ethis Centre, 2016). Teleology is completely the opposite of deontology. Its focus is more on the end result rather then set rules of deciding between the right and wrong. It places the moral judgment on the end result of an action not on the set ethical standards as in deontology.

From General Motors perspective, the company has to decide about the launch of a semi-autonomous technology in 2016. The semi-automated technologies are designed to reshape the living standards by reducing the mortality rate caused by the accidents and to reduce the harm faced by the community, as the motor vehicles accidents are considered as the 13th main cause of accidents in the USA. In 2015, only 2.44 million people have been injured during car accidents. But the case of Tesla has grown the concerns of public, media, companies and the government about the semi-automated systems.

From the deontological perspective, it’s not right to endanger people’s lives so the companies should stop manufacturing automated systems as the Tesla’s pilot died just because of an automated Tesla vehicle. Bu from the Teleological perspective, the automated systems are saving more human lives by reducing the number of motor accidents, as the incident was a single case during 130 millions coverage. The semi-automated systems are generating a greater good for the whole community by saving up lives, as Utilitarian approach (Tardi, 2020) suggests. So, GM should follow the Teleological approach, as its generating more good for the society.


PEST Analysis:


Only a few states had laws regarding the use of autonomous technology on vehicles. There were no federal regulations or statues that governed the release of automated driving system. But, the car manufacturers were more found to be exposed to lawsuits in case of automobile collisions which involved the treatment of automated vehicles as a product liability case than an unavoidable accident. There was a variation in states laws; full deployment of autonomous vehicles was allowed in Florida, whereas autonomous vehicles were only allowed to be operated for testing purpose in Nevada, Michigan, and California.


Autonomous vehicle technology was considered as an opportunity of economic growth and to capture the historically resided technological sector of California. The market size of autonomous vehicles was expected to be around $42 billion by the year 2020. The probability of high economic growth provides an opportunity to each leading player in the auto mobile industry to focus on autonomous technology to improve the driving experience of consumers……………..

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