MHC-ADS aims at guiding a responsible transition within increasingly complex and automated driving systems. With the combined efforts of psychologists, philosophers, and engineers, MHC-ADS will develop a theory of “Meaningful Human Control” (MHC) over Automated Driving Systems (ADS), and assess several aspects of this newly developed theory, with the use of three use cases: mixed traffic dual-mode transport, autonomous vehicles (or: pods), and truck platooning.

“Meaningful human control” has been identified as key for the responsible design of autonomous systems operating in circumstances where human life is at stake. By preserving meaningful human control, human safety can be better protected, and accountability gaps can be avoided. However, we still lack a satisfactory theory of what meaningful human control precisely means in relation to ADS.

Based on the methodology of “value-sensitive design”, MHC-ADS aims to develop a definition of meaningful human control over ADS, which encompasses its conceptual, technical and behavioural dimensions. MHC-ADS will also develop, implement, test and improve building blocks for guidelines for “designing for meaningful human control” on the three case studies, the results of which can be used by all its stakeholders in various different ways and with various different perspectives. In the first stage of our project, we are aiming to develop an empirically and technically usable conceptual toolbox (or framework) that can be shared across the different areas of expertise that characterize the project. We will isolate a minimal set of notions of control, based on literature from, among others, philosophy, behavioural science, and engineering. Simultaneously, we aim to identify an as clear as possible notion of “meaningfulness”. On that regard, we started from a philosophical notion of meaningful human control over ADS, to investigate whether, and to what extent, its elements could be operationalized and tested within an empirical framework.

Designers, manufacturers, road operators can use the results of these experiments for developing innovative ADS that achieve meaningful human control. Policy makers can use these to elaborate a regulation that promote both innovation and human values, and driving licensing bodies can use these for new procedures. Lawyers and insurance companies will receive original inputs for the design of liability and insurance schemes.

MHC-ADS will also actively collaborate with its public and private parties in the consortium, who will support with the definition of the case studies based on real-life demonstrators, and will connect the research to the relevant stakeholder groups.