Driverless vehicles have the potential to impact road rules and how roads are designed and constructed. One other implication revolves around the insurance industry and how, if there is an accident, it can assign liability to a car that is fully automated.
The impact of driverless vehicles on the insurance industry will be one of the key discussions taking place at the 2nd International Driverless Vehicle Summit, held in Adelaide on 16-17 November.
Secretary of the Insurance Commission of Western Australia, Kane Blackman, is one of the speakers at a panel session on insurance and liability and will discuss the implications that sharing our roads with autonomous vehicles will have on insurers, manufacturers, suppliers, motorists and policymakers.
Who will be at fault?
Mr Blackman said driverless vehicle technologies will mean fewer vehicle crashes and injuries on Australian roads.
Not only will this affect the need for, and cost of, motor vehicle injury insurance but it also raises questions about who to blame when things go wrong, which will fundamentally impact existing insurance business models.
“Currently human drivers cause most motor vehicle crashes, but when an automated vehicle – which makes decisions based on its programming, sensor feeds and inputs from the surrounding network – crashes, there might not be a driver at fault,” Mr Blackman said.
“Manufacturers and suppliers are legally obliged to provide products to consumers that are safe, free from defects and fit for purpose.
There will be an expectation that automated vehicle manufacturers and suppliers accept liability should their products fail and cause injury.”
Automated vehicle owners will also be expected to have responsibilities such as ensuring their vehicle is regularly maintained according to manufacturer specifications, which could include software updates and the replacement of sensors, cameras and other equipment.
“Discussions are underway in states and territories about what the personal injury insurance regimes should be for people injured in crashes of autonomous vehicles,” Mr Blackman said.
“The decisions made following those discussions will shape the future of motor injury insurance schemes.
“This will be particularly important during the transition phase when we will see a mix of driverless and human controlled vehicles sharing the road, and during the evolution from partially to fully automated vehicles.
“Adding to the complexity is the potential for connectivity and technological failures, as well as the very real threat of cyber risk.”
Integrating technology on Australia’s roads
The theme of the 2nd International Driverless Vehicle Summit is ‘Translating technology to real world deployment’, with delegates hearing from an array of prominent national and international technology thought leaders, human factors experts, insurance and legal practitioners and regulators from across the driverless vehicle ecosystem.
The event will also include demonstrations and conversations around security, heavy and light vehicles, and the latest innovation developments, pioneering trials and deployment from across Australia and around the globe.
Keynote speaker and Aurrigo Chief Operating Officer, Dr Richard Fairchild, will offer critical insights from a series of demonstrations on selected public roads and footpaths in Milton Keynes and Coventry.
Chief Executive Officer of Peloton Technology in the US, Josh Switkes, will outline how truck platooning technology might apply within an Australian setting, and the Australia and New Zealand Driverless Vehicles Initiative (ADVI) partners Aurrigo, EasyMile and Navya will join forces to showcase driverless shuttle technology.
ADVI is the peak body for driverless vehicles in Australia and New Zealand, with a membership of 100 leading organisations across a wide range of sectors. ADVI’s education, advocacy and demonstration efforts help to inform and raise awareness, encourage community acceptance, and ensure understanding of the economic, environmental and lifestyle benefits of driverless vehicles.