Walmart’s plans to use robot cars to shuttle goods between warehouses made news this week.
Thomas Powers, Director of the Center for Science, Ethics & Public Policy at the University of Delaware, can speak to the broader impact of this push to utilize autonomous vehicles.
He notes that while Walmart and many analysts are looking at this decision from the corporate and consumer standpoint, “there is the issue of the social costs of AVs and calculating those costs broadens the decision from Walmart’s own ecosystem to society and the environment. Those additional costs involve burdens to public goods such as transportation safety, public road congestion and wear-and-tear, emissions of GHGs, and in the short term on increased unemployment in certain sectors.”
Powers can speak to the ethical considerations around Walmart’s decision and how the public might react.