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Are driverless cars really close to being a reality?

Are driverless cars really close to being a reality?

Are driverless cars really close to being a reality? While self-driving cars are still several years away from hitting shelves, insurers are beginning to feel confident enough to begin offering self-driving car insurance policies.

Adrian Flux has launched the first personal driverless car insurance for UK motorists. The policy is designed for motorists who might already have some early autonomous features already in their car, such as self-parking systems or ABS.

Speaking to Insurance Business UK, a spokesperson for Adrian Flux said there were two reasons the company decided to launch a driverless policy while fully driverless cars aren’t yet available.

“Firstly because they are going to be a thing in the not too distant future, and also because there are increasing elements of autonomy being built into cars,” he said.

“We wanted to have a policy there in place on which you could insure cars with increasing amounts of autonomy, which wouldn’t need to be changed too much, if at all, when the first fully driverless car does actually hit UK roads.”

Adrian Flux’s policy covers situations such as vehicles failing to install software updates within 24 hours of an owner being notified, satellite outages and damage from hackers. The policy also covers loss or damage caused by a driver failing, when able, to use a manual override system to avoid an accident.

The policy comes after the Modern Transport Bill was announced in the Queen’s Speech, which will extend compulsory cover to situations where the car is at fault, rather than the driver. UK roads minister Andrew Jones clarified this a week later, saying a vehicle would be at fault in a serious accident while a car is in driverless mode.

The spokesperson for Adrian Flux said liability chains have always been part of the insurance industry, and if an autonomous car is deemed at fault in an accident, an insurance company will simply peruse the manufacturer of either the car or the software driving the car, the same way they would any claim.

However, whether driverless cars will feature no manual control or the option of manual control still remains unclear especially with manufacturers pushing for differing standards to be adopted by governments. In either scenario, Adrian Flux’s policy should be applicable.

Indeed there are other developments in the automotive industry that are changing the way insurers look at the way cars are insured. Intelligent Mechatronic Systems (IMS) has also been granted a European patent for the requirements to enable connected car services using mobile devices. The system would allow a mobile phone to be used to track a car’s telemetry and a driver’s behaviour.

CEO and president of IMS Dr Otman Basir said the platform could be used for driver coaching, advanced vehicle diagnostics and usage-based insurance. The company estimates smartphones will represent about 30 per cent of new usage-based insurance policies sold in the European aftermarket in 2020.

Now insurers are beginning to move, driverless cars are appearing more feasible every day.


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