Insurance Post

First driverless death will push full autonomy further down the road

Tesla superchargers set up in Maidstone Kent

The first potential death caused by a Tesla car will push the reality of fully autonomous vehicles further down the road and have repercussions for the insurance industry, experts have warned.

Tesla's Autopilot feature is under scrutiny after the driver of a Tesla Model S died after colliding with a lorry in Florida in May.

Tesla said it appeared that the car was unable to distinguish the side of the tractor trailer that had driven across the vehicle's path with the brightly lit sky.

Martyn Briggs, industry principle for automotive and transport at Frost and Sullivan told Post: "I think when it comes to driverless cars at the moment, it's definitely going to transform the insurance industry in the UK one way or the other.

"This particular news is obviously tragic, but in terms of the roadmap towards full autonomy on the road, I think it just shows there's a lot more analysis and questions that need to be answered through testing before things are full commercialised.

"Now of course someone has died whilst this has been activated, it will trigger a full investigation. And the findings for that will be very important for the insurance industry."

David Williams, Axa head of underwriting, told Post: "I think this emphasises that what's currently available isn't truly autonomous driving, it's driving assistance. We still have some way to go.

"The technology is great, but it's not ready for true autonomous driving yet. In the UK, we're not letting vehicles out and letting members of the public do what they want, we're doing it in controlled environments.

"This is undoubtedly going to hit public confidence, and we need to be ready for that. We will have a couple of months of this now, people suggesting that they're unsafe, when the reality is that when we do have truly autonomous vehicles on the road they'll be a damn sight safer than you or I driving."


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