Self-Driving Cars & Trucks in Business

The demand for self-driving cars has been ever rising in recent years. Many factors go into this demand, including convenience and safety. Yet, many forget one other factor – the effect self-driving technology can have on a business.

Developing alongside self-driving cars is the concept of self-driving trucks. The economy is still heavily reliant on trucks as a delivery method for necessary products. With that in mind, it becomes easier to see how having a fleet of self-driving trucks may be appealing to businesses.

Economic Impact

According to experts, about seventy percent of all goods are delivered via trucks, generating billions of dollars for the economy. However, the venture is not without cost. Truck upkeep and driver wages are not insignificant.

It is believed that the cost of maintaining a self-driving truck would be less than the combined cost of maintenance and pay for a standard truck. Additionally, drivers can only legally drive so many hours in a day, where a self-driving truck would not have those issues.

The potential for increased profits is there – and businesses want in. Kodiak Robotics, Waymo, Volvo, Tesla, Embark, and TU Simple are all working hard to develop their own versions of self-driving trucks. 

Increased Safety

As with the need to develop self-driving cars for consumer safety, there is a safety concern for self-driving trucks. According to Professor Robert W. Peterson of the Center for Insurance Law and Regulation at Santa Clara University School of Law, over ninety percent of accidents are caused by user error.

Businesses are hoping to increase the overall safety of the roads – and their employees – by switching to self-driving trucks. It will also reduce the wear and tear that drivers must go through.

Other Initiatives

More companies than ever are experimenting with self-driving technology as a way of doing business. For example, Amazon spent some time considering this (along with drones) as a delivery method.

Now, Domino’s is testing out their own form of automated delivery: Nuro. Their goal is to have deliveries be easy, safe, and an overall enhanced experience for customers. However, not many customers will enjoy this particular experience right now, as it is still limited.

Walmart is another company testing the waters of self-driving technology. They’ve joined forces with Argo AI and Ford Motor to try and create a new form of a home delivery system. If it works, it will revolutionize the way people shop (and receive their goods). 

How Vehicle Technology is Building a More Sustainable Future

The race to create a sustainable car has been ongoing for decades – and it doesn’t look like it will be ending anytime soon. The desire to develop the subsequent functioning yet highly sustainable vehicle has increased right alongside the demand.

Lately, most auto manufacturers have put their attention towards electric vehicles. Given that electricity is a renewable energy source, this makes complete sense. Yet, it is not the only tactic that manufacturers are considering.

Electric Vehicles

Electric and vehicles, also known as EVs, are growing exponentially common these days. This is partially due to the government incentives available across the globe. Currently, the EV market is expected to grow at a CAGR exceeding twenty-one percent between 2019 and 2030. 

Despite the rising demand, a few problems are facing electric vehicles. For one thing, there is currently no standard among charging stations. While that may be a tolerable problem for smaller techs such as phones, it does not govern longevity for something as significant as a car. CharIN is one of several companies trying to encourage universal standards for charging, but it will take time.

Another focus for further developing EVs is the battery itself. This is the new heart of a car, where all of the power is stored. Currently, EVs depend on lithium-ion batteries, which means factors such as temperature and over-changing are legitimate concerns.

Battery Second Life

As mentioned above, finding greener solutions to deal with batteries is a must. One short-term solution, pushed by Analog Devices, is to repurpose spent batteries. Contrary to popular belief, batteries that have worn out from powering cars all day still have a bit of power in them. It isn’t enough to power a vehicle, but it is enough to provide a bit of electricity to those that don’t have it. Suddenly, that otherwise wasted energy can be used to provide cooking fuel to those that need it most. 

Green Tires

Believe it or not, greener tires are another consideration when it comes to making more sustainable cars. Rubber is not a sustainable product, so creating cars based entirely on this material is not practical or eco-friendly.

However, finding an alternative to rubber has become quite a challenge. Instead, companies are trying to find other ways to offset their carbon footprint. Time will tell which solution wins out.

 

Can the Latest Tech Lower Your Car Insurance Rates?

With the rise of safe driving technology, one question on everyone’s mind is how will this affect insurance rates? Many are hopeful that better collision prevention will, in turn, reduce premiums. While others are concerned that the increase in tech costs will outweigh the potential benefits.

These days, people have high expectations for what technology can do for them. People also expect it to help them save money – and there are precedents to back this assumption up. Better technology has allowed for energy (and thus cost) saving alternatives, among other options. 

According to a study run by PwC, up to forty-one percent of consumers would walk away from an insurance company that failed to offer high-quality digital capabilities. In other words, if their insurance isn’t going to work with their tech, they’re not interested.

Making Drivers Safer

People today have access to technology that makes them safer. Motion and range sensors combine to create collision prevention technology, while cameras help drivers watch their blindspots.

It’s easy to assume that the tech designed to make us safer actually works. Studies have shown that while some technology has worked hard to make us safer – other forms provide too much distraction. In other words – the technology is only effective when those behind the wheel are also trying to be safe.

Additional Expenses

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. Yes, driver safety tech can help keep people safe – and thus, theoretically should reduce car insurance premiums. However, upon closer inspection, there’s one glaring problem with this premise.

The technology used to make drivers safer does not come cheaply, which means that when accidents do happen, the overall repair and replacement costs are higher. This means that most drivers are not likely to see a significant drop in their premiums.

Reducing Costs

Thankfully, there are a few alternatives for reducing insurance rates. For example, drivers can opt into customized insurance plans. In other words, a driver grants permission to have all of their driving data compiled and turned into one concise plan – no need to pay or unneeded insurance.

A study from the University of British Columbia found that people are not only willing to have insurance companies monitor their driving for customized plans – but they’re safer drivers because of it. It turns out that knowing somebody is watching your every move is all it takes to make a driver just a little bit more cautious. 

Blockchain Data and Car Insurance

The insurance industry has been working hard to stay up to date with modern technology. Already the industry is making use of predictive analytics to help create customized plans.

This raises the question of how blockchain technology can help the industry. A blockchain is a way to securely store information. The highlight of this method would be the inability to change data once it has been established. In other words – hacking and malicious attempts at alterations will not work.

Smart Contracts

Smart contracts are but one of the ways that blockchain data and car insurance companies have found a perfect balance. Contracts are a part of daily life – especially for insurance companies. A smart contract is simply a more advanced version of the original. 

In this instance, they are digitally signed and stored through secure digital means (blockchain data). All parties involved in the contract, including the neutral third party, can access this data.

Due to the digital nature of smart contracts, it allows for a certain amount of automation. A computer can look at the contract, and if the terms have been met, activate the appropriate next step.

Advantages of Blockchain Data

Many advantages come from blockchain technology, including the information already mentioned in the section above. Digital contracts allow for ease of access – both for the insurers and the insured.

In turn, this helps erase confusion, increase communication, and, more importantly – ensure accurate information. For example, fraudulent claims will dwindle, as all relevant data will be stored in one location. To put it another way, it’ll be simpler than ever to catch fraudulent claims. 

The customer will also have higher levels of protection, as the data will be stored with a neutral third party. This will help ensure that the insurance companies hold up their end of the deal and leave avenues for when things do not happen according to plan.

Insurance companies can use this ready access to data to store client details, going beyond what is typical these days. Data such as driving habits, traffic records, and accidents can all be easily (and safely) stored in one location. 

While that may not sound like a significant advantage – it is. All of the data being in one place would further encourage customized plans, which would once again benefit both parties.

Auto Tech Driving Insurance Explained

Our interactions with cars change every year as new technology comes out to improve the experience. As such, auto insurance must find ways to adapt right alongside the industry. This is no mean feat and takes a lot of careful planning. 

Most recently, auto insurance companies have begun to develop automated ways of measuring and creating new plans. There are many benefits to this feature, including highly customizable plans.

The Complication

There is one complication with the plan to go full automation when it comes to insurance: people’s willingness. According to CCC Information Services, Inc.’s Crash Course report, until recently, most drivers were unwilling to share such detailed and personal information.

What sort of information do these metrics require? The predominant concern revolves around mileage. New features allow for easy personal data collection, including driving details, travel speed, and location.

Up until recently, only 41% of those surveyed were willing to share their data. That number has gone up to 54% and is likely due to the changes that the pandemic brought with it. Primarily the reduced time spent in cars.

One of the main concerns from users, unsurprisingly, is the breach of privacy. Specifically, these features would require drivers to give up information such as where they at which times, which can be a deal-breaker for many. According to a study run by Pew Research Center, only 37% of Americans found the offer appealing, even when taking benefits into account.

Benefits

Despite these concerns, there are plenty of benefits that come with auto tech driving insurance. Primarily, the data used to create an individual’s plan would be based on their driving – and theirs alone.

Instead of filling out several complicated forms, drivers can instead give access to their data metrics, allowing insurance companies to create an accurate and detailed plan that fits the users’ needs. It sounds complicated, but in truth, it makes things simpler. 

This practice is called usage-based insurance. In practice, it works through an app on your phone, which then transmits data to your insurance company. Most companies experimenting with the tech provide rewards for using the app – rewards that get better the more you use it.

Personalizing the Auto Insurance Industry with the Help of AI

Every day digital advancements change the way we look at and interact with the world. New ways of sharing information and collating data have made things in some ways simpler, even in complex areas such as auto insurance.

Advancements in AI (Artificial Intelligence) are the most likely to bring a great chance to auto insurance. Currently, we are looking at an insurance market that has changed very little over the years. The real question is, how much longer can stagnation last?

AI still has a long way to go before it is on par with the beings portrayed in science fiction novels. Still, there are plenty of ways for modern AI to help the insurance world. AI processes can help with pricing, handling claims, and fraud detection, just to name a few options.

The advantage of using AI to set prices comes with the ability to create individualized and personalized policies. An insurance company that employs this tactic will provide custom quotes curtailed to the clients’ needs, creating a competitive advantage. 

Artificial intelligence could easily customize these policies based on user location, marital status, family status, the likelihood of premium charges, driving history, and more. Most notably, it could also make sure of IoT (Internet of Things) to draw in more personalized data.

Given the potential power of AI, the level of personalization is limitless. The policy could go beyond personal records and look into the car the coverage is intended for. Here crash and injury data could quickly come into play, as well as automotive history.

As for handling claims? It wouldn’t take much effort to automate the handling of certain claims through the use of artificial intelligence. This would save time and money in the long run and give clients a faster customer service experience.

In turn, this would shorten the time required for settling claims. This will result in happier customers, but it will help limit fraud cases in the process. This is a vital element, as insurance fraud is currently costing companies around $40 billion per year. AI can easily detect fraudulent cases, diminish risks, and streamline the process for legitimate cases.

 

Self-Driving Cars and Auto Insurance

amigo_mga_self_driving_cars_and_auto_insuranceAuto insurance agencies know a lot about traffic, how it works, what causes it, and how to best ensure drivers based on factors like age, college GPA, income, and color of the vehicle. Traffic engineers know well that no matter what they do to direct and control traffic, human error is hard to account for. For example, we have the classic dilemma of when to merge in the event of a road closure or construction. Do you merge over as soon as you see that the road is closing soon, or do you wait until your lane is cut off to merge?

In his landmark work on traffic engineering entitled, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), Tom Vanderbilt helps readers understand the nuances of what makes drivers behave the way they do and how city planners, construction crews, navigation apps, and drivers themselves try to account for this in their day-to-day lives. From an unexpected demonstration to someone distracted by a song on the radio, it’s hard to account for human error when making plans that have to do with transportation.

What if we take the human driver out of the equation, though? For the most part, auto insurance covers the damage drivers cause to their own cars and to the people, vehicles, or other property involved in the accident. It’s been demonstrated that self-driving cars are not immune from getting into accidents and causing havoc. In 2016, a self-driving Tesla car was involved in a fatal accident in Florida. Who, then, bears the responsibility?

Warren Buffett, who owns Berkshire Hathaway, which recently acquired Geico insurance, believes that the onus of protection will shift from drivers to those who manufacture and program the self-driving cars. Already the state of Michigan has passed laws that require the automakers to assume responsibility for any accident that occurred because of a self-driving car.

Since it’s common knowledge that most of the traffic issues that plague our day to day lives are the results of human error, many believe that automation will reduce the instance of accidents. However, if automakers are required to bear the responsibility for insuring these autonomous vehicles, they may experience a disincentive to produce them, since the costs would swell as the technology’s bugs get worked out. Thus, the speed of technology development would plateau and human-caused traffic accidents would continue to occur.

There are a lot more questions than answers right now regarding what will happen as cars are no longer controlled by fallible people. Insurance companies, automakers, and legislators will continue to debate where the burden belongs, but in the meantime, auto insurance will continue to cover must human error.