We are the voice of insurance and long-term savings | Contact us

The Future of Mobility?

Fast & Furious 8 has been showing in cinemas - including scenes of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV’s) being hacked and sent round New York destroying people and property – that will do wonders for the reputation of  ‘Driverless Cars’… I don’t think!

Whilst I enjoyed the movie, my view of the future of road transport is a lot rosier, and that is based less on the creations of a Hollywood director, and more on the practical experiences, touches and tests from our involvement in CAV consortia.

AXA have been lucky enough to be part of four consortia that have received approval and funding as part of a Government initiative to put the UK at the forefront of CAV development. Our work with Venturer, UK Autodrive, Flourish, and now CAPRI just recently announced has given us a real insight into the capability of this technology.  Having sat in an autonomous test vehicle, albeit just going round the UWE University Car Park in Bristol, I don’t have to rely on other accounts and promises, I know for a fact what can be achieved, and can see the rate it is progressing as well.

David WilliamsMuch of the technology that will form the autonomous vehicle of the future is going into production vehicles now. Thatcham, the Motor Vehicle Research Institute funded by insurers, shows that Automated Emergency Braking systems reduce accidents by 15%, and injuries by 18%. That’s just one small component of the car of the future that I believe will save thousands of lives every year.

The Williams F1 Team is part of the Venturer Consortia and they have outstanding simulation technology. I’ve also sat in the simulator at Southampton University where independently they are also doing some great work. Maybe not as exciting as Forza 7 on the Xbox, but the point here is that we can test and refine systems and do millions of miles without even hitting the tarmac, giving comfort hopefully to any naysayers that these vehicles shouldn’t just be allowed on the roads, but massively encouraged.

I feel privileged to get to see ‘tech’ early - stuff that will transform lives, bring mobility to people who currently can’t get out and about, and make our roads MUCH safer. I also see how prices are tumbling. One sensor for the UK Autodrive Pods is less than 10% of its original cost, after a little over a year, as more of these things are sold the cheaper they get, meaning that CAVs will not only be the province of the rich and famous. I also see things that cause me concern. SAE Level 3 vehicles are great, until they insist the driver takes back control as they don’t like something, but that’s why Ford and Jaguar Land Rover (also partners on UK Autodrive) have announced they won’t be building level 3 vehicles. Levels 4 and 5 are much more capable and safer, and certainly the way to go!

So my view isn’t entirely rose tinted - I’m a sceptical old underwriter at heart after all! But overall I do see a massive opportunity to make our roads safer, and am proud to be able to contribute to that.

Hear more from David Williams and other industry experts at the ABI's Changing gear - adapting to autonomous vehicles event on 6 November. Find out more and book your place now. 

Last updated 20/10/2017