From the road to the air, the evolving use of telematics

A look at the increasing use of telematics on drones and how insurers can benefit

From the road to the air, the evolving use of telematics
Giuseppe Zuco, Chief Technology Strategist and Co-founder of Octo Telematics looks at the increasing use of telematics on drones and how this can improve the understanding and use of both technologies, as well as how insurers can benefit.

Telematics are being increasingly adopted by consumers to reduce their car insurance premiums. By monitoring driver behaviour and collecting data on how an individual drives, insurers are able to accurately price risk and apply individual, tailored policies rather than applying blanket charges based on a broader range of criteria such as age and location. But, as with all technology, more understanding is leading to evolution and innovation as companies and individuals look to push the boundaries and find new ways to analyse and implement data. In fact, we’re now seeing the marrying of two relatively recent technologies as airborne, unmanned drones are being fitted with telematics.

Much like telematics devices, drones are seeing an increasingly wide range of uses. From their initial military use, retail giant Amazon is now considering using drones for deliveries. They are also being used by emergency services in countries such as Ireland, where the Donegal Mountain Rescue Service uses them to find stranded climbers and reconnoitre before sending in rescuers.

But why would we need telematics on those drones?

Telematics on drones can be used simply to track and trace. Real-time data can help the human operators understand flight patterns and the status of the drone. The more understanding there is of how something is operating, the more it can be improved. This will lead to better drones, with better weather and altitude capabilities and train earthbound pilots to ensure fewer ‘operator errors’. There are now so many drones in the skies that thousands of hours of flight time could be pooled to build an accurate picture of typical drone flight behaviour in different scenarios. Drones being flown over mountains require very different capabilities than those flown over lakes or fields, for example. In the event that a drone gets lost, it can be found quickly and the cause of the crash can be investigated. Likewise, flightpath tracking can avoid any collisions in the increasingly crowded skies, just as telematics systems in connected cars will smooth traffic.

But drone telematics can also help insurers. Drones themselves are very expensive and often require their own insurance policies. In the US, these are priced based on the number of hours flown. In Europe they’re usually based on operator skill level. In both cases, reductions can be made with more accurate risk assessment. The data being sent by drones can help reduce the severity of the consequences of an accident. Using the data gathered by drone telematics to analyse weather, conditions and other factors that might delay a rescue in the case of a ground accident can mean that rescuers can be on the scene more quickly. In fact, the Red Cross of Italy is already using drones to survey accident sites. A speedy rescue can help with managing injuries to reduce long-term damage. An insurer that knows that, in the unfortunate event of an incident, rescuers can aid motorists quickly will be able to incorporate this into their risk calculations and therefore reduce premiums.

Telematics can help consumers save on their insurance premiums. By putting the technology on drones as well, they can now be covered both on the land and from the air.

The preceding article was an opinion piece written by Giuseppe Zuco, Chief Technology Strategist and Co-founder of Octo Telematics. The views expressed within do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Business.

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