The automotive industry is putting a lot of effort in developing smart and intelligent traffic systems. In the near future, cars will drive autonomously  to the desired destination. How can related industries, like insurance companies, respond to this development?

Intelligent traffic systems

In various programs and projects, businesses, research institutes and public organizations are developing technology and policies that will make mobility faster, safer and greener. Projects like SPITS and sim­­­TD are working on open platforms where cars, traffic lights and traffic control centres communicate and together calculate the best route and speed for each individual vehicle. In standardization bodies like ETSI, automotive manufacturers and road operators are working on the standards required for this so called collaborative driving. It is expected that the current road infrastructure will be upgraded to a smart road infrastructure in the coming years.

From driver to operator

While traffic systems initially only provided advice to drivers, today they already intervene in dangerous situations and gradually smart systems will take over driving tasks. This changes the role from the driver towards a more operator-like role. With this change, also the responsibility for safe driving transfers from the driver towards the car manufacturers and the road operators.Autonomous systems are currently only used on closed tracks, like BMW’s TrackTrainer, or under guidance of special operators, but it is only a matter of time before autonomous driving cars enter the public roads.

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What about car insurance?

This development towards autonomous driving seems like an evolutionary process rather than a disruptive innovation. But the implications for, for example, car insurers or car repair centres, are high. When cars drive autonomously and the amount of traffic incidents is reduced to near zero, an entire industry could disappear. Preparing for such a change cannot be done with the typical business planning  tools used in a sustainable business environment. Consulting  your customers and optimizing cost structures will only delay the decline in business. For the companies involved it is time to broaden their view and start discovery-driven planning in order to find a new, appropriate business model.

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