Car safety has improved drastically over the years. We know that the potential for human error when we’re out in the road is high. There are so many things that could go wrong - a lack of judgement, poor reflexes and tiredness could all result in disaster with injury or lives lost.
But what if we could all get a boost in our driving skills from cars with super-tech that can anticipate a potential hazard or accident?
While this may sound like science fiction, the truth is that there are already a few cars that are offering such sophisticated tech. In a couple of years its anticipated that most new cars will have the tech to warn drivers about an impending accident and help them to avoid it.
According to a report by Reuters, car manufacturers are installing tech that will help drivers avoid car crashes and this is all fueled by the US government’s mandates to install it. Apparently, driver assistance systems (ADAS) will be big business.
Billions to be gained by innovative tech
By 2025 it’s expected that the industry will balloon to $67 billion (£55.47 billion*). And this will continue to grow and estimated to do so by 10% each year after that.
So, gone are the days of neck-craning like owls – blind spot detection systems fitted in Volvos and Audis, among others, can monitor the road on either side of the vehicle and issue a flash warning if there’s another car in your blind spot.
Other examples of intuitive and accident prevention tech include emergency brake systems, forward-collision warnings (visual or audible warning) and high-speed automatic emergency braking.
Volvos and Audis are not the only ones to get in on the act. Manufacturers that are introducing or have introduced this type of technology reportedly include SEAT, Tesla, Mercedes Benz, Kia and Nissan – to name but a few.
Thatcham.org says that the Tesla Model 3 achieved one of the highest Safety Assist scores and that ‘its collision avoidance assist system is first class’.
On its website, Tesla boasts that the Model 3 ‘detects nearby cars, prevents potential collisions and assists with parking’. Plus 360-degree rear, side and forward-facing cameras are said to provide maximum visibility.
This all sounds really impressive and will surely go a long way to decreasing accident rates around the world. Reuters’ report says that, according to data produced by reinsurer Swiss Re AG, ADAS has the potential to reduce car accident frequencies by up to 25%.
One would think that with such a statistic there’d be a decrease in premiums as the risk for an accident has been greatly reduced. But it seems that this type of technology is not enough to impress insurers.
The claim is that there’s insufficient data out there to back up the motor manufacturers safety claims. It doesn’t help that the industry is apparently also reluctant in parting with information proving that these new systems are indeed as efficient as they say they are. It’s probably got something to do with them fearing that they will impart with some sensitive information could give their competitors an edge.
Then insurers also point out that it will cost more to repair these motor cars in the event that they are damaged in an accident. However, there’s an argument that as the tech will prevent more accidents this will offset the cost of higher repairs.
It’s not that insurers completely doubt the technology. According to Reuters, Swiss Re has partnered with BMW and there could even be similar partnerships on the go as reinsurers and insurers see the benefits as more drivers buy cars with such tech.
The insurance industry hasn’t always been the first to dip their toe in the water when it comes to trying out new tech. But there’s always the first-mover advantage to consider in these situations. We have, after all, in the past mentioned benefits of investing in technology and how that can boost a business' financial performance.
Human error still remains a risk though. We have humans building these systems and humans still behind the wheel making the ultimate decision. Can we trust humans to obey a robot’s warning signals? And can we truly build robots that can prevent every accident? The jury is still out on this…
*Currency conversion correct as at 13 August 2019