Inn-sewer-ants premiums to rise for driverless cars – IT to blame?
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Inn-sewer-ants premiums to rise for driverless cars – IT to blame?

Inn-sewer-ants premiums to rise for driverless cars – IT to blame?

Posted on 14th November 2017

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Car crash (toys)A friend recently renewed his car insurance.  In the process of his annual call to the insurance company it was suggested that because he had been in an accident, even though it wasn’t remotely his fault and the other party accepted full responsibility and paid up, they wanted to increase his premium.  Cue lots of strong language…

I thought of him when I read this article in the Telegraph’s business pages about driverless cars.  It seems that they are too safe.  Or rather, they can’t quite cope with the vagaries of other (human) drivers.  For example, as the Telegraph describes, “the crash was not the driverless car’s fault. The delivery lorry, and its human driver, reversed into the shuttle, having failed to see it. There were no injuries, and in fact, the driverless technology worked as required: the shuttle stopped as it sensed the lorry reversing in its direction. It just couldn’t do anything about the other driver’s carelessness.”

Apparently this is fairly common in driverless car tests. The problem is that they are safer, but, perversely, involved in more crashes due to the stupidity of “other road users.”   Or, as the Telegraph writer puts it, “the technology might work flawlessly but the humans don’t.”

This understandable quest for safety and perfection can have its funny side.  A few years ago, the police in the United States pulled over a Google driverless car…because it was going too slowly, specifically at 11 mph under the speed limit!

The message to the techies is clear. It’s your fault with all this aiming at perfection stuff. Start to build human foibles into your prototype driverless cars.  To be fair, this is already happening, with Waymo (the part of Google that is developing driverless cars) now trying to emulate some “human” characteristics such as the way we inch forward to “negotiate” with other drivers at junctions.  Until such time as we’re all in nigh-perfect driverless cars, I fear the inclusion of some human traits may be a necessity. In the meantime, I hope they have better luck with their insurance premiums than my friend did…

Michael Phair, Client Engagement Manager, Be-IT


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