Data gathered by autonomous cars and shared with insurance companies could be used to keep the vehicles from taking undue risks.
At this moment there are hundreds of autonomous cars on the roads around the world. They’re all still experimental (we’re not counting Teslas, which are not autonomous), because we don’t really know how safe they are yet. And, importantly, if we were to turn them loose carrying people around and they ended up in a crash, we wouldn’t know who to blame.
This question of liability is one of the thornier issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, especially if they’re ever to be sold to the public. But it could be solved with help from a trial led by Oxbotica, the autonomous-vehicle company spun out from the University of Oxford, to investigate how driverless vehicles can gather and share data. The idea is to explore not just how cars could pass data between each other in order to drive more effectively, but also how that data could be used by third parties like municipal authorities and, crucially, insurers.
The project uses three autonomous Ford Fusions, each loaded with stereo cameras and lidar sensors and controlled using Oxbotica’s autonomy software, Selenium, as they drive themselves around Oxford and the surrounding countryside. All the vehicles use cellular connections to send data to each other and to other organizations that are involved in the project, such as insurer XL Catlin.
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