NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Daimler's (DDAIF) Mercedes Benz is programming its self-driving vehicles to protect its passengers over pedestrians, the company's manager of driver-assistance systems and active safety Christoph von Hugo told Car and Driver at the Paris Auto Show, which started on October 1.
"If you know you can save at least one person, at least save that one. Save the one in the car. If all you know for sure is that one death can be prevented, then that's your first priority," von Hugo explained.
The question of what self-driving cars should be programmed to do in a situation when a child runs out into the road, is one that all self-driving car manufacturers are having to face, noted Fox Business' Ashley Webster on Thursday morning's "Varney & Company."
"Should the car run the child over or should it swerve and possibly hit a tree, threatening your life and the life of anyone in your car?" Webster asked.
Mercedes-Benz is saying, "Quite frankly, it's the life of the driver and those inside that is more important than anything else," Webster added.
From a legal perspective, people would still be able to sue Mercedes-Benz, noted special guest on the show and former prosecutor Katie Phang. A plaintiff lawyer in this situation would argue that the automaker "intentionally programmed" the car to run over the child, she pointed out.
"It's going to be a product defect lawsuit at that point. I think Mercedes Benz is saying 'safety first' is now being replaced by 'driver first,' she explained.
However, the government plans to heavily regulate self-driving cars and will probably not allow this to happen anyway, Phang added.
Shares of Daimler's were lower in early afternoon trading on Thursday.