The CEO of UK insurance company Axa, Amanda Blanc, told the Telegraph this week that it is possible babies born today will never need to sit a driving test, as the arrival of driverless cars may be as close as fifteen years away. Her prediction that autonomous cars will be on the roads as soon as 2032 differs from the timeframe suggested by US tech firm Intel, who have said that they believe driverless cars will be revolutionising the way people live by 2050.
One of the main issues surrounding the introduction of the driverless car is insurance: who is responsible in a crash when the driver is not a human but a computer? According to UK government proposals, outlined in the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill, insurance companies will be required to offer two types of insurance cover for self-driving cars, one for times when the car is driving itself, and another for times when there is a human at the wheel. It is expected that insurance costs will fall, as automated cars are predicted to lead to lower accident rates. Research undertaken by the US government suggests that driverless vehicles may lead to an 80% decline in the number of car accidents.
Not only will the arrival of driverless cars make roads safer, Ms Blanc also points out that they will ‘increase mobility for vulnerable members of society’, as those who cannot currently drive will be able to get insurance for automated cars. Politics and PPE students might wish to look at how insurance companies like Axa are working with the Government to draw up blueprints for the legal implications that will stem from the introduction of driverless cars. Anthropology students could look into the societal changes that are predicted to take place once these cars are on the road, while Computer Science students would be wise to look into how artificial intelligence is making such technological advances possible.