Anticipating the eventual arrival of driverless cars to the roadways of the world, researchers have encountered a strange dilemma surrounding the safety of the vehicles.
When designing the cars, engineers are faced with the question of how an autonomous vehicle should react to a potential accident.
A survey of drivers revealed a paradoxical problem: they want driverless cars that would sacrifice their passengers in order to save pedestrians, but only if they, themselves, were not the unfortunate occupants.
With potential consumers overwhelmingly opting for driverless cars which put their passengers first, designers foresee such vehicles as the only version which will manage to take hold with the public.
The same study also showed that government regulations requiring 'self-sacrificing' cars would only serve to stymie the driverless car industry just as it appears to be ready to launch in earnest.
One proposed option would be a campaign to convince drivers that so-called 'self-sacrificing' cars are the more noble option of the two types of vehicles.
However experts argue that would ultimately result in more traditional automotive deaths occurring over the course of the time it would take for such a program to work.
Which form of driverless car eventually becomes the standard may not be known for quite some time, so the intriguing thought experiment of passenger versus pedestrian is almost certainly going to be debated well into the future.