Sunday, July 12, 2015

Driverless Cars and the end of car insurance (can't we dream?)

Great piece on Brookings on Driverless Cars, or what they call Autonomous Vehicles. As it turns it, driverless cars are safer than human driven cars. The Brookings refers to the following DW article to note the safety record of the Google driverless car experiment:

"Google's 11 accidents happened during 1.7 million miles of driving, working out to 0.6 percent per 100,000 miles (160,000 kilometers). The national rate for reported "property-damage-only crashes" in the United States is about 0.3 per 100,000 miles driven, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety administration. But as Google noted, as many as 5 million minor accidents are not reported to authorities each year."

(On a side note: Google's analysis of the official accident rate is a valid one. The real rate of human accidents is quite significant in determining how safe autonomous cars actually. Data integrity strikes again!)

What Brookings points out is that for years the various governments across north America have been able to exploit human weakness and use that to prop up their revenues: speeding, accidents, and driving related fines. They also point that there will be tremendous savings in the US (approximately $10 billion a year to the overall infrastructure) as state and federal governments will be paying less for the damages caused by accidents.

With the rise of "smart machines" such as, driverless cars or IBM's Watson, the society will under go economic shifts that are going to cause massive impacts on the way we do things. Just think of all those who currently benefit from the "human inefficiency" of traffic errors and infractions:
  • Insurance companies: Ideally, governments will eliminate mandatory insurance as it can no longer by justified in such a low-accident environment. We can dream can't we? Perhaps the manufacturer can take on the risks associated with the vehicle instead of the driver
  • Police departments: Police spend time catching motorists speeding, etc. They will need to be re-assigned to other areas. Although these areas are likely potentially less revenue generating, they may be more helpful to society. 
  • Courts: Courts get bogged down and take months to process cases. This backlog will be a thing of the past and then they can work on other cases. 
  • Lawyers and paralegals: If there are no court cases, then there's no need for these guys either.
  • You and me: People will no longer to take time off work and spend time defending themselves against these charges and extra tithes we have to pay to our insurance-feudal-corporate overlords.
The counter-argument is that there's less freedom to drive as you please. But should you be able to driver faster than the speed limit if it's illegal? It's an inconvenient truth, but either speed limits are not necessary or fast cars are unnecessary. But why are we driving so fast? It's usually we are needing getting places to do things.  If we can shift our schedules to handles those task as we are taken where we need to go in our "e-chauffeur driven car" doing what needs to get done while driving at safe speeds. I, for one, welcome our new autonomous-car future. 

No comments: