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Insurers call for data standards on driverless cars

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Cars of the future will need to collect a basic set of core data to prevent drivers being unfairly blamed if technology goes wrong, the Association of British Insurers Annual Conference will hear today.

Insurers are calling to have a standard set of data agreed at an international level which would be available in the event of an accident involving an automated vehicle.

This would include an indication of whether the vehicle was operating autonomously or not, and what technology was in use.

Huw Evans, ABI director general, said: "As part of insurers' commitment to getting automated cars on the road and dramatically improving road safety, there will need to be basic data easily available to make sure customers are looked after if something goes wrong.

"This would offer public reassurance by protecting motorists from being incorrectly blamed if something fails with their car, helping police investigations and supporting prompt insurance pay outs."

This information would be used to establish liability for anything that had gone wrong in the event of an incident and inform emergency services' investigations.

The data gathered would also ensure insurance claims could be processed promptly and help vehicle manufacturers improve their products.

On occasions where faulty technology was shown to have caused an accident insurers should be able to recover the costs from the manufacturer the ABI says.

Peter Shaw, chief executive of Thatcham Research, said: "One of the key battlegrounds of the future will be determining where liability rests in the event of an accident with an automated car.

"Future legislation needs to protect the consumer so that in the event of an accident, responsibility for the accident and who pays can be quickly determined. Was it driver error or a failure of the automated driving system? This can only happen if their insurer has access to key data about the crash.

We are calling on car manufacturers and legislators to work with the insurance industry to develop a framework to make this happen."

The information insurers want to see collected only concerns the autonomous systems and driver interaction.

The data would cover a period from 30 seconds before to 15 seconds after an incident and includes a GPS record of the time and location of the incident in order to confirm whether the vehicle was in autonomous or manual mode.

The UN body responsible for vehicle regulations is preparing to impose its own data requirements on motor manufacturers from 2019, which insurers in the UK are hoping to influence for the benefit of motorists.

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