Driverless cars being test driven in California, though insurers aren’t quite ready for robot drivers

Auto insurance industry beside itself on the self driving car issue

Google Self Driving CarThough it may sound like science fiction to have a robot driving a car for you, Google is already taking driverless cars out on the roads of California to test them, regardless of the fact that the law hasn’t even considered that this could be possible.

Next door, the state of Nevada has already created regulations that are allowing these robot operated vehicles onto its public roads, and Brian Sandoval, the governor of that state, has already been out in one, having called the technology and the experience “amazing.”

However, the creators of this new technology and the designers of insurance coverage do not think along the same lines. Determining the risk involved and the cost for covering these driverless vehicles will be a significant obstacle for individuals who would like to be able to have them on the roads across the country. As of yet, the insurance industry hasn’t had very much to say about the topic.

Farm Bureau, State Farm, EMC Insurance, and Grinnell Mutual representatives have all stated that they either feel that the technology is still too far into the future to make it worth their attention at this time, or that it is not being investigated at all as of yet. That said, they do have a point in that the driverless cars won’t be making their way to auto dealerships for a number of years. The point is that the foundation technology does already exist.

In fact, even by January 2012, Wired magazine had already printed a cover story that described Google’s driverless car efforts, and at that time, the vehicles had already been test driven on over 200,000 miles of actual roads. Virtually every car manufacturer is making some effort toward this technology.

Even the current features being built into certain cards are indicating that semi- or fully- driverless cars will one day be mainstream. These include:

• Electronic stability control that is capable of detecting a slide or a potential upcoming roll, which applies specific brakes to regain vehicle control.

• Laser- or radar-based collision warning systems that automatically apply the brakes to help prevent rear-end crashes.

• Camera-based systems to keep a vehicle within its lane by watching the road lines and taking over the steering wheel to gently steer a car back into the proper lane.

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