Automation & Society: The Case of Highly Automated Driving

Initial Situation

Highly automated driving (HAD) is considered a highly relevant mobility trend. While researchers and practitioners have been addressing the technical challenges of HAD vigorously, other aspects of this technology remain unclear. One of these aspects are the ethical questions that arise from this technology, e.g. if an accident is inevitable but there are different outcomes depending on how the car reacts to the situation, resulting in harming either the passengers in the car or other road users – which outcome should the car pursue? Another aspect is how the public should be informed about such risks and how to raise public awareness and unbiased debates about this technology. As such topics are increasingly discussed in social media and online news portals, new communication guidelines need to be considered.

Project Aim

Instead of only focusing on technical aspects of automated driving, this project emphasizes the interaction between automation and society. That is, to acknowledge that automated systems depend on societal factors and in turn that the progressing automation influences social developments in ways that can only be understood and addressed in an interdisciplinary fashion. The research group aims to provide reliable data as a foundation for the societal debate on automation and is going to enter into a dialogue with different members of society, such as other researchers, policy makers and citizens.


The institutes in cooperation consider societal aspects, decision-making, information processing, communication processes, human-machine-interaction and policy interventions on different hierarchical levels: society, organization, individual/user, and engineering in relation to large-scale projects on mobility comprising new technological developments. These aspects are addressed using different experimental/empirical approaches ranging from mathematical modeling, user surveys, lab and intervention studies, analysis of social media behavior up to driving simulation studies.

Work Packages:

  • Investigating the human-machine interaction for automated vehicles
  • Investigating experimental ethics of complex sociotechnical systems
  • Optimizing information processing and decision-making in multiple stakeholder groups
  • Methodology and risk modeling of complex sociotechnical systems
  • Debiasing decision-making about large sociotechnical projects
  • Identifying the role of social media for risk perception formation


This project is one of the labs of the Munich Center for Technology in Society (MCTS). The MCTS is an integral part of the TUM’s institutional strategy, successfully presented to the German Excellence Initiative for universities in 2012. Scientists from the Deutsches Museum, the Munich School of Philosophy, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and the Universität der Bundeswehr München are involved in the center’s projects.


Scientific Partners

Technische Universität München, Chair for Information Systems (Prof. Dr. Krcmar)
Technische Universität München, Chair for Strategy and Organization (Prof. Dr. Welpe)
Technische Universität München, Chair of Mathematical Statistics (Prof. Dr. Klüppelberg)
Technische Universität München, Chair of Philosophy and Philosophy of Science (Prof. Dr. Mainzer)
Technische Universität München, Chair of Research and Science Management (Prof. Dr. Peus)
Technische Universität München, Institute of Ergonomics (Prof. Dr. Bengler)
Technische Universität München, Munich Center for Technology in Society (Prof Dr. Maasen)
Technische Universität München, Peter Löscher Chair of Business Ethics (Prof. Dr. Christoph Lütge)

Research Funding

DFG institutional strategies to promote top-level university research

Additional Information

Munich Center for Technology in Society


Dr. Michael Schermann
Christopher Kohl, M.Sc.