With the advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the embedding of AI in automobiles, the Federal Government National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering whether to classify a computer running an autonomous vehicle as a driver. This decision was in response to the Google X self-driving car program to gain regulatory approval and design requirements to make these types of vehicles a reality. These vehicles are expected to be available to the market, being driven (no pun intended) by mostly younger owners, within a few years. The vehicles would transport passengers without requiring a driver.
“Our interpretation that the self-driving computer system of a car could, in fact, be a driver, is significant,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement. “But the burden remains on self-driving car manufacturers to prove that their vehicles meet rigorous federal safety standards.”
To help further promote autonomous vehicles, the Obama Administration has proposed a $3.9 billion investment to research and test these vehicles, so you know Uncle Sam is serious about this. They believe autonomous vehicles will ultimately reduce road accidents and fatalities.
How do we think this will affect insurance companies that offer auto insurance? Do insurers think they have more time than they actually have to prepare products and services for this line of business? Are they correlating the fact that Google Compare has been quoting and offering auto insurance through several carriers for several years and are now building a class of “Drivers” for which they will control the data and information? Do you think you will be competing against Google directly for this business?
There are still many legal hurdles and discussions on determining the fault of the accident with autonomous vehicles, but the situation is developing faster than you might think. If you don’t want to be left behind, you need to start thinking and planning for this eventuality.