Self-Driving Car News Roundup: Insurance Rates, Declining Claims & More


So, what’s happening with autonomous vehicles lately? Buckle up, because it’s time for another news roundup.

Questions remain about individual insurance premiums.

According to a report by the Casualty Actuarial Society’s Automated Vehicles Task Force (CAS AVTF), it’s high time to consider how autonomous vehicles will affect the premiums that individual drivers pay for insurance. “Quantifying this impact ultimately depends upon collaboratively defining, collecting, and analyzing data related to AV safety and performance,” said Rick Gorvett at Carrier Management. Most importantly: if self-driving cars are safer than not, what kind of insurance discount is appropriate for them? Get the report here.

Tesla collision-avoidance features seem to have caused a drop in insurance claims.

Speaking of safety, the Tesla Model S has seen a drop in damage and injury claims since it introduced “an array of advanced driver assistance features, which now include Autopilot as an option,” said Stephen Lawson at TU Automotive. Unlike previous systems, which ranged from “irksome” to “dangerous” according to the IIHS, the new features seem to have reduced claims by 13 percent. We say “seem” because there’s data missing: “the researchers couldn’t tell which sedans had the optional feature, or which had it activated at the time of the accident,” so we need to know more before drawing conclusions, Lawson said.

Electronic steering helps disabled drivers, while opening doors for self-driving cars and new interior designs.

Drive-by-wire (or steer-by-wire) technology was invented to empower drivers with physical disabilities, replacing mechanical steering systems with fully electronic ones. But its usefulness doesn’t end there. “It is considered a key enabling technology for self-driving cars,” said Nathan Eddy at TU Automotive, and furthermore, “it opens up new possibilities for the interior designs of vehicles and cabs.”

Autonomous trucks aren’t putting truckers out of work but taxi drivers should worry.

It’s been a concern for some time: if autonomous trucks put humans out of work, what will formerly employed truckers do for a living? According to the American Center for Mobility (ACM), however, the fear is unfounded as yet. “Despite concerns that a rise in automated vehicles will displace significant numbers of truck drivers in the United States, only a modest number of truck driver jobs, if any, will be affected,” the ACM reported this month. That’s small consolation to “passenger car-based driving jobs” such as taxis, however, which could indeed get shouldered out by self-driving cars, researchers said.

Duckietown is driving innovation at the AI Driving Olympics.

As for what’s next, this December at NIPS, Montreal’s premiere machine learning conference, the Duckietown Foundation will help “probe the frontier of the state of the art” in “deep learning, machine learning and reinforcement learning” in a competition where self-driving cars (or robots, as the case may be) can strut their AI. The event will be presented by six academic institutions and two industry co-organizers, using the Duckietown platform to support the competition.

Keep in touch! We’ll be doing additional news roundups as developments unfold.