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Driverless cars or autonomous vehicles

Autonomous Nissan vehicleVehicle technology has developed rapidly in the last few years with new systems adding a significant level of autonomy to many new vehicles. These include:

Technology is now steadily advancing from semi-autonomous vehicles to fully autonomous (driverless) vehicles. This represents both challenges and opportunities for the insurance industry:

  • 90% of road traffic accidents are caused by human error - advances in technology towards autonomous vehicles will have huge implications on road safety.
  • A potential for life saving technology by reducing the number and severity of accidents.
  • AEB, which automatically applies the brakes if the driver does not respond in time, has been proven to lower the rate of low speed collisions that result in personal injury claims by around 20%. 
  • Fully autonomous cars are the next step in the development of vehicle technology, with most indicators suggesting that by the mid-2020s, some manifestation of driverless vehicles will be on UK roads.
  • It is more than likely that driverless cars will become ‘connected’. This means that they will be able to communicate in real time with other vehicles and with roadside infrastructure; with the aim to reduce congestion, accidents, fraud and improve on fuel management.

Potential transfer of risk

As vehicles become increasingly connected with other vehicles – and as the control input transfers from human to computer, it is possible that liability will follow that transfer of risk. There is therefore the potential for the vehicle manufacturer to become liable for an accident, as opposed to the driver, if the driver is unable to override the system.

The insurance industry is continuing to work with Government, vehicle manufacturers, regulators, the legal community and through the industry’s research and repair centre, Thatcham, on this potentially life-changing and life-saving technology.

Video: The future of autonomous driving

For more information, read the ABI's latest blogs on driverless cars:

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