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Manufacturers must share autonomous vehicle crash data: ABI

Tuesday 22nd November 2016

Cars of the future will need to collect a basic set of core data to prevent drivers being unfairly blamed if technology goes wrong, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

In a speech at the organisation’s annual conference today (22 Nov), the ABI will say in circumstances where faulty technology was shown to have caused a collision, insurers should be able to recover the costs from the manufacturer.

The ABI says British insurers are leading efforts to make data easily available in the event of an incident involving a highly automated vehicle, including whether the vehicle was operating autonomously or not at the time, and what technology was in use.

This information would be used to establish liability for anything that had gone wrong, inform emergency services’ investigations, ensure insurance claims could be processed promptly and help vehicle manufacturers improve their products.

The ABI adds that the information insurers want to see universally collected only concerns the autonomous systems and driver interaction – it is not proposing that any information measuring driver performance should be gathered.

The data would cover a period from 30 seconds before to 15 seconds after an incident and would include:

  • A GPS record of the time and location of the incident
  • Confirmation of whether the vehicle was in autonomous or manual mode
  • If in autonomous mode, whether the vehicle was parking or driving
  • When the vehicle went into autonomous mode, and when the driver last interacted with the system
  • Any driver activity such as braking or steering
  • Whether the driver’s seat was occupied, and whether the seatbelt was fastened

The ABI’s call is backed by Thatcham Research, which says that determining where the liability rests is ‘one of the key battlegrounds’ when it comes to the future of automated cars.

Huw Evans, ABI director general, said: “As part of insurers’ commitment to getting automated cars on the road and dramatically improving road safety, there will need to be basic data easily available to make sure customers are looked after if something goes wrong.

“This would offer public reassurance by protecting motorists from being incorrectly blamed if something fails with their car, helping police investigations and supporting prompt insurance pay outs.”

Peter Shaw, chief executive of Thatcham Research, added: “Future legislation needs to protect the consumer so that in the event of an accident, responsibility for the accident and who pays can be quickly determined. Was it driver error or a failure of the automated driving system?  

“This can only happen if their insurer has access to key data about the crash. We are calling on car manufacturers and legislators to work with the insurance industry to develop a framework to make this happen.”

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