A future that includes automated vehicles sure sounds like one devoid of stress and aggravation.

But UD philosophy professor Thomas Powers wants people to think a little harder about what it will mean to have vehicles on the road that have a mind of their own: The vehicles will be forced to respond to changing conditions that may have life-and-death implications.

With a self-driving vehicle taking the wheel, it will no longer be human beings but mechanisms making decisions that we consider morally loaded, Powers says. As such, developers need to make sure that striving for a moral compass is just as important as developing the fast-forward technology needed to get these vehicles on the road.

A specialist in scientific ethics, Powers directs UD's Center for Science, Ethics and Public Policy.

He can discuss the ethics of emerging technologies, the environment, nanotechnology and research.