(Image source: Munich Re.)
Munich Reinsurance America (Princeton, N.J.), and Comet (Brighton, Mich.), a developer of ground mobile robotics pilot projects, have engaged in a feasibility study focused on autonomous vehicle (AV) data and market development opportunities, according to a Munich Re announcement. The insurer describes the engagement as part of its overall commitment to understanding and developing solutions for emerging and future risks.
The study will examine the implications of how autonomous vehicles both make driving safer and raise new questions about risk and liability, according to Munich Re.
“Autonomous vehicles are an emerging risk because they could potentially change how the public travels, how travel is regulated and the nature of transportation risk,” comments Tony Kuczinski, president and CEO, Munich Re America. “We believe that AV technology offers tremendous potential to save lives, reduce accidents, provide fuel economies, and improve road efficiencies. However, there is still much to learn before society can fully harness the benefits of this technology, and it is why we are working with Comet and other public and private entities to develop business solutions for this emerging risk.”
Comet works with corporations, government and end users to educate them about the advantages of vehicle automation through real work demonstrations and pilots, according to the company’s president, Corey Clothier. “Our engagement with Munich Re involves ‘kicking the tires’ to see how AV technology is applicable in the real world.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA], vehicles with automated safety controls are already on the road, incorporating such features as adaptive cruise control used in combination with lane keeping. The NHTSA expects the number of AVs on the road to continue to increase, first as additions to existing vehicles and then as fully integrated systems.
As Munich Re has explored in its recent study, “Autonomous Vehicles: Considerations for Personal and Commercial Lines Insurers,” potential questions around AV risk and liability include whether personal liability might shift from the driver, to product liability on the part of the vehicle manufacturer or systems provider because of mechanical or software failure.
“In the transition to fully autonomous vehicles, there will be a variety of AV types on the road, which will add complexity in laws and law enforcement, liability and underwriting,” observes Mike Scrudato, senior VP, Strategic Innovation Leader at Munich Re America. Other risks include cyber security to protect the communications systems within and between vehicles.”