Auto insurance quotes for self-driving vehicles

One of the standard elements of any science fiction street scene is the self-driving vehicle. You get in and, with a few words, tell the on-board computer where you want to go. When you wake, you have arrived. Except this is no longer science fiction. As those of you who have an iPhone will know, voice recognition software is advanced enough to allow you to give verbal commands to your phone. This system is advanced enough to apply to the simple task of giving an address. The majority of new vehicles are leaving the assembly lines with GPS fitted as standard. For a few extra dollars, you can have a navigation system installed which calmly tells you how to get were you want to go. Again, this is proven technology and many take it for granted. So the only problem left to be solved is creating software sufficiently reliable to physically control the speed and direction of the vehicle.

This April, the leader of Google's driverless car project gave a keynote speech to the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress. Google has been testing a software package. As of March, its vehicle has clocked more than 200,000 miles without a human driver in everyday street conditions. So far, there has been no accident. When you think about it, this is a fairly remarkable achievement. For it to work, there must be a 360 degree camera system so that the software can see exactly what is around it. Then the software has to be taught which parts of those images are moving and/or represent a potential hazard. This is easy for a human driver. We can see a bicycle or a pedestrian leaving a sidewalk between two parked vehicles and understand the dangers. Unfortunately, computers have no natural intelligence and must be taught what is significant. This is a slow and difficult process. Even when you add in radar and other sensing technologies, the safety all comes down to there being enough rules in place to keep risks to a minimum. That Google has logged 200,000 miles in everyday traffic without incident is very impressive.

So much so that Google is now actively talking to the insurance industry and government. More than 30,000 people die every year in traffic accidents. If computer technology could reduce that, everyone would benefit. Insurers, in particular, could avoid the thousands of claims currently caused by distracted drivers. At a stroke, auto insurance quotes would fall as computers assume responsibility for the driving. All it will take is enough confidence that computers are safer than human drivers, and there will be no stopping mass automation. From our point of view, it will probably mean slightly longer journey times. Computers will always obey the speed limits and stop when the road signs require it. There will be no reckless overtaking and aggressive tailgating. We arrive where we wanted to go in one piece and that, by any standards, is socially desirable. So here's the big political question. It's already legal to be in a self-drive vehicle on the roads in California and Nevada. If you want more states to legalize these vehicles and reduce auto insurance quotes, now's the time to make your voices heard.

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