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Self-Driving Cars: A Comprehensive Guide  

  • Car Insurance Tips
  • Gerard Stevens
  • 5 minutes

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Self-driving cars are always in the news for their potential … and the problems they may cause! What makes self-driving cars exciting? Driver error, the critical reason for accidents, can be avoided by introducing driverless cars. So, the number of accidents may come down, and you’ll have safer roads to drive. 

Autonomous Driverless Car

Companies like Tesla and Volkswagen have started testing driverless cars in the country. It is fair to expect that nearly one-third of cars on the road won’t have a driver by 2035. But, self-driving cars also possess some challenges regarding safety and risk. Another big concern for you will be how to insure driverless cars.  

So, what is a self-driving car? What are the impacts of driverless cars on insurance? Continue reading to know in detail about self-driving car insurance via our blog! 

What is a self-driving car? 

As the name suggests, self-driving cars can travel from one location to another without the assistance of a human driver. These cars use a combination of sensors and devices to determine their position on an active 3-D map. The map virtually guides these cars. There are five levels of vehicular autonomy according to SAE – Level One (Driver Assistance), Level Two (Partial Automation), Level Three (Conditional Automation), Level Four (High Automation), and Level Five (Full Automation). Self-driving cars primarily use a combination of sensor and image technologies – radar, lidar, and cameras.  

Get the best insurance quotes for self-driving cars

How do self-driving cars work? 

There are three main factors by which driverless cars work – Map building, Path planning, and Obstacle avoidance.  

Map building 

A driverless car must create a map to understand its surroundings. Typically, the car uses lidar and camera technology to scan the surroundings. The car’s computer then aggregates the sensor, GPS, and IMU inputs to build the map. 

Path planning 

The car finds the safest and quickest routes to a destination by this. Along with navigation, a self-driving car must also look for static and mobile obstacles and movements like changing lanes and passing other vehicles. Path planning starts with a long-term plan, like the directions when entering an address into a map application. As the car moves, short-term plans are generated and continuously refined. 

Obstacle avoidance 

Avoiding static and moving obstacles, such as pedestrians, is integral to map creation and path planning. Driverless cars constantly draw maps of their surroundings, including all observable and predicted obstacles, and use machine learning to determine the identity of specific objects. The computer can predict their behavior from here. A self-driving car’s computer can tell the difference between a motorcycle and a bicycle and decide how to avoid either. 

Because obstacles can be hidden and not detectable by a car’s sensors, self-driving cars will be in continuous wireless communication. When one car encounters an obstacle, it will instantly alert the other cars, allowing them to adjust their paths. 

Self Driving Car

What are the benefits of self-driving cars? 

  • Driverless cars could decrease accident numbers as there won’t be human error.  
  • Expect a reduction in carbon emissions since self-driving cars may run on electric or alternative energy.  
  • Seniors and people with disabilities can travel comfortably.  
  • These cars don’t cause much congestion on roads. The cars are programmed to allow three to four car lengths in front of them, letting other cars change lanes and traffic to travel more smoothly on highways. 
  • The self-parking option helps you avoid the hassle of finding parking while traveling.  
  • Self-driving cars can be programmed to travel at the maximum permitted speed. This will save you from receiving a speeding ticket. 
  • Speed limits can increase with advanced safety features, resulting in shorter travels. 
  • People who need to cover longer distances will no longer have to sacrifice hours of their day to focus on the road.  

Benefits of self-driving car insurance 

These are the ways by which driverless cars affect the auto insurance industry. 

Reduced risks 

Self-driving cars can make the roads safer. We buy auto insurance policies to protect ourselves from risks. So, when a driverless car gets damaged in an accident, the auto insurance company takes up the financial liability for the vehicle to continue without financial hiccups.  

Fall in insurance rate policies 

We are less susceptible to accidents caused by human error in most cases while using self-driving cars. The fear of financial risk is what urges car owners to purchase insurance. Purchasing an insurance policy will no longer seem essential once this feeling has diminished. Reduced demand for car insurance will result in lower policy prices. Insurers will work relentlessly to develop appealing products to remain competitive. Increased competition will also result in cheaper insurance products, putting auto insurers at a disadvantage. 

Repair costs 

The car accident numbers may decrease as more vehicles come with crash avoidance features. These features require more expensive technology, which can increase the cost of repairs. But it isn’t sure whether fewer crashes will lead to lower overall repair costs. 

Which is the best self-driving car?

Tesla. Currently, it offers four cars with the autopilot feature – Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model S, Tesla Model X, and Tesla Model Y.

How much does self-driving car insurance cost? 

The premium differs based on the model, trim level, location, and insurance coverage. Your driving record can also be a factor for some insurance companies. Tesla charges around $4352 as the average annual premium in the US.  

Is insurance essential for self-driving cars? 

Both yes and no. In theory, self-driving car passengers will not have to buy insurance because they are not the primary risk factor. Instead, driverless car manufacturers will require car insurance policies covering various risks. The risks include death, personal injury, technical failure, employee error/ill-will, and cyber-attacks.  

Find the cheapest insurance quotes for self-driving cars

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