Insurance provider Aviva has become a partner of an ongoing autonomous vehicle trial – as it looks to capture data that will enable it to insure such vehicles in the future.
The trial of an autonomous shuttle, led by the Darwin Innovation Group, will take place at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
The vehicle, controlled by 5G and satellite connectivity, will pick up passengers, transport them around the campus, and drop them off at their destination, all without the involvement of a human driver.
A second shuttle is expected to be added in the second year of operation.
The electric shuttles will operate 24/7, which will allow the capture of data in different light and weather conditions. They are described as having a high level of automation – and do not have a steering wheel.
Ahead of the trial, Darwin has carefully mapped out the campus and provided the shuttles with all the information they will need to navigate the area.
The shuttles will be able to communicate with each other, and will be equipped with sensors, so they can navigate without obstructing each other and can react to any unexpected obstacles.
Aviva says autonomous vehicles offer the potential to ‘dramatically improve road safety and revolutionise the UK’s mobility system’.
However, it adds that as the technology evolves and the UK draws closer to fully autonomous vehicles, there will be new risks for insurers to consider.
Nick Amin, chief operating officer at Aviva, said: “With this trial, we’re able to be there right from the start of the real-life application of autonomous vehicles operating on public roads, which will change not only our relationship with these vehicles but, more fundamentally, how we insure them.
“Autonomous vehicles could change the face of motor insurance within a decade.
“Through having access to the data from this trial, we can understand today the kinds of things we’ll have to consider in the future to keep passengers, pedestrians and all other road users safe when driverless technology hits public roads.”