For years now we have heard people wax lyrical about driverless tech and the future of automated travel. The main issue holding things back is how to insure driverless cars. Although that could be about to change.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) and Thatcham Research have put their heads together to come up with a list of criteria which will determine what is, and is not, a safe driverless vehicle.

The 10-point list includes key features and performance criteria:

  1. Naming: clearly describes automated capability
  1. Law abiding: complies with UK traffic laws and the Highway Code
  1. Location specific: functionality is limited to specific types of roads or areas via geo-fencing
  1. Clear handover: transfer of driving control follows a clear ‘offer and confirm’ process
  1. Safe driving: vehicle can manage all reasonably expected situations by itself
  1. Unanticipated handover: adequate and appropriate notice must be given if the vehicle needs to unexpectedly hand back driving control
  2. Safe stop: vehicle executes an appropriate ‘safe stop’ if unable to continue or the driver does not take back control
  1. Emergency intervention: vehicles can avoid or prevent an accident by responding to an emergency
  2. Back-up systems: safeguards step in if any systems fail
  3. Accident data: record and report what systems were in use at the time of an accident

Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill

The list comes on the back of the recent announcement of an Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill, which highlights how driverless cars and electric vehicles will work in the coming years.

Speaking about the list, Ben Howarth, senior policy advisor for motor and liability at the ABI, said:

“The Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill has a broad statutory definition of what an automated car is. That’s fine as far as legislation goes. What we’ve published are the insurance industry’s criteria to follow on to the legislation, and define the difference between automated and non-automated cars.”

Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham, added:

“Regulators and insurers require this information to classify and insure vehicles appropriately, while consumers need to understand the different functionality and capability of driverless cars and their own responsibilities between various models. Consequently, a system that needs the driver to control or monitor the vehicle in any way cannot be classified as automated.”

The future is closer than we think

This is an exciting time in the motor industry as new technologies drive the future of the sector. How risk is managed across these new technologies still requires work, but it’s encouraging that conversations are taking place at a more frequent rate.

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