The evolution has begun
THE INNOVATION OF autonomous vehicles will one day profoundly change the world.
Supporting the safe introduction of these driverless vehicles as a new way to help solve transport and safety problems for our customers is critical for the future.
That’s why we saw insuring the new 15-seater electric shuttle bus at Christchurch Airport as an opportunity to get behind innovation that will eventually become mainstream. As insurers, we have a key role to play in the adoption of these driverless vehicles to ensure customer trust, protection and safety on our roads.
The shuttle bus is powered by electricity and has no driving controls whatsoever. It is expected to operate at around 25kph although it can travel at speeds up to 45kph.
HMI Technologies purchased the vehicle from Navya in France for the purpose of conducting trials here in New Zealand. It is part of a trial which could lead to more of these vehicles transporting passengers around in the future. The trial will be confined to the airport grounds behind fences and won’t be operating within the restricted area. There will also be no exposure to other vehicles at this stage.
NZI is focused on understanding how autonomous vehicles can impact safety and risk, and how we can evolve our products and services to better meet the future needs of our customers.
In the future we anticipate a mix of autonomous, semi-autonomous and traditional vehicles on the roads, and we’ll be evolving our insurance model to make sure our customers are protected, regardless of the type of vehicle they choose to travel in.
The thing with hi-tech equipment though is always the cost of replacement if something goes wrong. So it required some critical thinking on our part from the NZI underwriting team. In the end minimal changes to our standard policy wording were required and the vehicle doesn’t actually have to be driven in order to be insured.
We all know that cars are increasingly being designed with advanced driver assistance systems ( ADAS) to help make the driving experience safer and more enjoyable. It’s inevitable that there’s a natural progression to fully autonomous – where the driver becomes a passenger and the vehicle the driver!
It will lead to some significant changes in the insurance industry and how we insure vehicles for unexpected events in the future, which is why we’ve been focused on this for some time now.
Through our research centre in Australia, we’ve been exploring and testing the impact certain vehicle technologies have on safety and risk. We’re encouraging the uptake of new autonomous technology to improve the safety of our customers by offering price discounts on things like Autonomous Emergency Braking.
By partnering with external industry and research groups we are also working to deepen our understanding of the impact this new technology will have on our roads and customers.
There’s no denying the advantage of these connected vehicles. They’re able to generate data that has a range of potential applications – from helping drivers better navigate their journeys, to vehicle servicing alerts and trip-based products, not to mentioned increased safety.
It really is a new world, and I for one embrace it.
By Travis Atkinson, Executive General Manager, NZI.