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The human vs machine challenge with modern vehicles

Minimizing the risk of misuse and misunderstanding
Damir Plejic
Automotive and Mobility Consultant
Silvia Marcacci
Marketing and Business Development Manager

From the Luddite movement of the 19th century to the latest robotics, the human-machine relationship has been a source of challenges. Technical advances and innovations indisputably bring an overall benefit to individuals and society, but things don't always work out as expected. One example is given by how humans overestimate machine behaviour and its functioning. Swiss Re has developed a solution for the risks identified together with selected partners from the automotive industry.

Safer vehicles thanks to ADAS technology

Over decades, the automotive industry has been significantly increasing the safety of cars on roads. It started in the 60s with the improvement in the construction of passenger cabins, followed by the introduction of seatbelts in the 70s and airbags in the 80s. These were novelties back then, but are now necessities in each and every car. However, statistics on car injuries are very concerning: still nowadays, road injuries represent the largest non-natural cause of both death and disability globally.

In recent years, cars have developed into computers on wheels, with a strong push coming from Tesla. Embedded safety systems have increased substantially, not only in number but also in sophistication. Such systems, usually referred to as ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems), are important milestones along the autonomous driving journey. Cars have achieved the 2nd of the 5 levels needed for full driving autonomy, which is expected to result in much safer roads than today. However, it will take decades before the industry, and we as a society, reach that point.

High level representation of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) functions and corresponding sensors installed

By partnering with car manufacturers worldwide, Swiss Re has developed the ADAS Risk Score: a solution designed to precisely assess the impact of the latest safety systems fitted in modern cars on crucial insurance metrics – the frequency and severity of claims, the predictability of accidents and the cost of repairs, among others. As outlined in a joint publication with Veoneer, car safety systems (such as Automated Emergency Braking) can significantly contribute to the safety of drivers and other road users.

Swiss Re ADAS Risk Score Framework

Misunderstanding of the technology leads to new challenges

ADAS technology has been developed to increase vehicle safety, but there's still a human component in the use of these systems which needs to be carefully assessed. In fact, misuse of ADAS by the driver can partially undermine the additional safety provided by the vehicle. Some drivers, for example, overestimate the sophistication of the systems and take their hands off the steering wheel, believing that the car will manage any situation, regardless of its complexity. This can result in severe accidents.

In addition, the pace of technical development has not been replicated in the overall driving educational system. When we look at driving schools, for example, they hardly know enough about the latest technology to be able to prepare new drivers properly. Moreover, car dealerships generally do not spend much time demonstrating all the safety systems installed in a vehicle because other features, such as in-car entertainment, are more interesting and are often stronger selling points. All this results in drivers having a relatively low understanding of car safety technology, which leads to the aforementioned misuse of the systems, with drivers switching certain systems off and not knowing that those systems can be highly correlated to other safety features.

Car manufacturers are aware of the shortcomings caused by human misuse of ADAS and are working to develop even smarter driver-independent technologies. While we wait for those, insurers should find a way to still account for the human intervention component in their risk assessments if they want to avoid losses in their books, and there's a solution for that.

Swiss Re is showing the way to tackle the new risks

As part of the Coloride telematics solution, we have developed a system for coaching drivers. It is a sophisticated and individualized coaching system that recognizes individual risks that individual drivers are exposed to (eg maneuvers, speeding, phone usage) and mitigates them with appropriate coaching methods using data and cognitive techniques. The objective is to reduce the overall risk exposure for those individual drivers and motor insurers that adopt the system.

The same driver coaching solution is now being integrated within the ADAS Risk Score. During the onboarding process, the solution would know precisely which systems are fitted in the customer's vehicle and can provide coaching on how to properly use them.

All coaching methods are triggered once the trip has finished, in order to avoid driving distractions. In this way, drivers can learn:
• The importance of ADAS in their cars;
• Why to leave them on despite sound alarms;
• How the systems interact with each other;
• Which systems are more useful depending on the type of trip;
• What to expect in critical situations.

Holistic risk assessment by Swiss Re

In addition, the ADAS Risk Score model pilots the active use of safety systems by drivers. Through a connected vehicles infrastructure, we also learn how drivers are triggering car safety systems with their driving behavior. It's not about penalizing drivers, but rather learning how to interact with and manage today's intelligent cars. Hopefully with a better outcome than during the Luddite era two centuries ago.

Swiss Re and its technology hub Movingdots are dedicated to improving road safety for everyone, by enabling insurers to better assess new motor risks and drivers by improving their understanding of important safety features, using the latest technology and learnings in the industry.

If interested to learn more about our capabilities and initiatives, reach out to our experts to schedule a demo.

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