Now there’s a selfie-driving car!, December 23, 2016. by Maryvonne Gray

We all know how much those Gen-Y’ers love to strike a pose for their latest selfie shot.

Well now they can even satisfy that need while driving the car – Citroen’s new C3 hatchback to be precise.

The ‘funky and feisty’ five-door, five-seater vehicle is expected to especially resonate with the selfie crowd because of its in-built camera system.

It features a forward-facing, high definition, integrated camera just behind the rear view mirror that allows you to take snaps for fun – perfect for those Instagram enthusiasts.

Even better, the camera has a wide-angle 120-degree view and pictures and videos can be downloaded directly on to a smartphone via an app.

But car industry reviewers such as the Daily Mail’s Ray Massey have also highlighted the serious intent behind the smartly-pitched gimmick.

The video system is designed to automatically store recorded footage 30 seconds before and 60 seconds after a collision which could then act as evidence in insurance claims for instance.

And with the rise in popularity of dashboard mounted cameras, it makes sense to have one in-built.

The car, whose futuristic design is aimed to appeal to younger, tech-savvy drivers, also boasts extras including keyless entry and start and blind-spot monitoring.

In Just Two Years Australian Cars Won’t Need A Driver Rae Johnston

The National Transport Commission released today details of a series of regulation changes related to autonomous vehicles that will roll out over the next two years – including removing regulatory barriers in Australian Road Rules and other transport laws that “assume a human driver”.

Other rule changes include developing national guidelines to support automated vehicle trials, clarifying who is in control of a vehicle with different levels of driving automation and developing a “comprehensive performance-based safety assurance regime” for increasingly automated vehicles.

The goal is to have conditionally automated vehicles opertaing safely and legally on our roads before 2020, and highly and fully automated vehicles from 2020.

Chief Executive of the NTC Paul Retter said that removing regulatory barriers will maximise the benefits of automated vehicles, including improved road safety, freight productivity and reduced road congestion.

“Inconsistent rules, regulations and application procedures for automated vehicles are potential obstacles to deploying this disruptive technology in the future,” Mr Retter said. “Our goal is to identify and remove regulatory barriers, and avoid a patchwork of conflicting requirements in different states and territories.”

Australian transport ministers have reaffirmed the existing policy position that the human driver remains in full legal control of a vehicle that is partially or conditionally automated, unless or until a new position is developed and agreed.

These changes come at the end of a one year project to research the barriers to automation.

Automation will wreck car insurance, says academic, 31 October 2016

The car insurance industry is in line for major disruption as automation removes risks, according to a new book.

Driverless cars and other technology advances could see premiums fall by 90% in the next 15 years, according to Michael Naylor, an economics lecturer at New Zealand’s Massey University.

“Once networked and autonomous cars are widely available, it has been predicted that car crashes will reduce by 80-90%,” he says. “This development is not that far away – Volvo has an aim of eliminating car crashes by 2020.”

In his book – A Perfect Storm in Insurance: How to Survive the Looming Waves of Disruptive Technology – Dr Naylor says technology will be introduced slowly, to enable drivers to adjust. But autonomous braking and parking is already being introduced on luxury cars.

“While a driver will be required to be at the wheel, the car may be in auto mode 80% of the time.

“There will not be a big moment when cars go from 100% human control to 100% automated. Instead, cars will go from 40% to 60%, to 80% to 100% during the next decade.”

Dr Naylor, who specialises in insurance, financial planning and international finance, says car theft will largely become a thing of the past, because voice and face recognition technology will make theft nearly impossible.

This will leave insurers covering only damage caused by object hitting cars or extreme weather events.

He cites examples of innovative insurers using technology like telematics to change their business models, and says insurers have been “laggards” in adopting new technology and realising the impact of disruptors.

“Insurers… need to start grappling with these changes now,” he says. “If they don’t, new disruptors will emerge to take their business from them.”

Driverless cars to cause a trillion-dollar disruption, October 25, 2016, by CRI

A rising star of the insurance industry has stated that driverless cars will cause a “revolutionary change” in the insurance industry and the global economy; and has predicted a dramatic drop in car ownership in five to 10 years.

Richard Enthoven, CEO of The Hollard Australia Group, said driverless cars were a major disruption in the insurance industry that also had “the potential to cause a trillion-dollar change in the global economy,” the Australian Financial Review reported.

“Driverless cars will reduce accidents by 90%, which will hit the general insurance industry hard given that half its revenue pays for smash repairs,” Enthoven said.

The chief executive said the major disruptor “has the potential to cause a trillion-dollar change in the global economy,” noting that the lack of accidents alone will greatly impact the work of professionals such as lawyers and the whole health system.

Enthoven predicted that the rise of driverless cars would effect structural changes and growing participation in the sharing economy, AFR reported.

“People will use their phones, as they do for Uber, to take a trip to the city which will cost a fifth of the current price because a human won’t be driving.

“A car will show up, take them to where they want to go and they’ll get out without worrying about parking. Currently, a third of drivers in the CBD are looking for a parking space at any one time.”

This change will prompt high-rise buildings to repurpose their underground parking facilities and will also see new buildings planned without extensive parking, the report said.

To respond to the emerging risks brought about by such technological change, Enthoven urged insurers to remain agile and innovative. He also stressed the importance of planning for the future and mastering the use of big data and the internet of things, as these would play an important part in the future of the insurance industry.

On his part, Enthoven’s innovations include the launch of a pay-by-the-kilometre car insurance model designed to address the declining use of the car, AFR reported.

Driverless cars could wipe out US$20bn in premiums, September 21, 2016, by Mina Martin
With driverless cars soon to dominate the roads, Craig Ridley, managing director of Accenture Financial Services, said this could have a surprisingly dramatic impact on a diverse range of industries, it has been reported.

The transition to autonomous vehicles is expected to not just transform how people think about transportation, but will also disrupt business models across multiple industries, including traditional insurance models, Asia-Pacific Banking & Finance (AB+F) reported.

Despite the rapid progress of driverless technology, the impact of this transition on the banking and financial services sector has been largely left out of the equation, the report said.

“Recent research by Swiss Re and HERE indicates driverless technologies could wipe US$20 billion off insurance premiums globally by 2020,” said Ridley.

“What’s more, companies like Volvo are already assuring their customers they will accept full liability for the actions of their autonomous vehicles when they officially go to market resulting in customers not requiring car insurance in the future.

“For generalist banks, the impact of driverless cars will reverberate across insurance, real estate, loans, capital works funding, and small to medium-sized enterprises,” said Ridley.

“What’s more is this transition is happening faster than we may think. While current Tesla motor vehicles are semi-autonomous and still require a driver at the wheel, Telsa CEO Elon Musk expects the company will have fully autonomous vehicles ready for market by 2018.”

In addition, Google’s Self-Driving Car project has clocked up more than three million kilometres of real world testing; Singapore has announced two driverless vehicle trials; Uber is expecting their full fleet to be driverless by 2030; while automakers BMW, Ford, General Motors, and Toyota have indicated they expect to launch commercially viable, fully autonomous vehicles on the road by the end of the decade, AB+F said.

Full vehicle automation comes with its challenges though, particularly in regulation.

“Musk predicts Tesla’s driverless cars will be ready by 2018 but, given the lack of industry standards, regulatory approval may take a further three years. Co-existence of current car models with semi-autonomous and fully-autonomous vehicles presents another challenge,” Ridley said.

Hugh Bradlow, Telstra chief scientist, said that by 2030, all vehicles on Australian roads will be driverless as the cost of retrofitting existing cars is expected to fall below US$1,000.

In March 2016, South Australia was the first Australian jurisdiction to authorise on-road trials of driverless cars, following estimates that the industry will be worth $90 billion within 15 years, AB+F said.

Various studies indicated that cars are among the most inefficient assets people own, as these are often left unused approximately 95 per cent of their existence, particularly within urban areas.

“Driverless automation will likely increase the opportunity to access a fleet of shared on-demand driverless vehicles, provoking consumers to further question the validity of car ownership,” said Ridley.

“This in turn will have a significant impact on conventional banking models and car loan schemes.”

Add-on insurance products sold by car dealers are failing consumers: ASIC, September 12, 2016, by Lucy Cormack

Add-on insurance products sold to Australians by car dealers are “expensive”, “poor value” and “provide little to no benefit,” the Australian Securities and Investments Commission has found.

In a report based on data collected from seven general insurers who issue add-on insurance products, ASIC found car dealers received four times more in commissions than consumers received in claims between 2013 and 2015, totalling $602 million.

ASIC Deputy Chairman Peter Kell said there were “serious problems” in the add-on insurance market that needed to be reviewed immediately by insurers.

“ASIC will be undertaking further work, including potential enforcement action, to ensure that this market delivers acceptable outcomes for consumers,” he said.

“We will also be looking at how insurers can refund consumers who have been sold inappropriate products.”

Examples of the products being sold to consumers purchasing new or used cars include consumer credit insurance, tyre and rim insurance, gap insurance and mechanical breakdown.

Over the three-year period ASIC found consumers had paid $1.6 billion in premiums, but received just $144 million in successful insurance claims.

Consumer credit insurance claims payouts were found to represent five cents for each dollar of a premium while, in some cases, policies have been sold where it is impossible for the consumer to receive a payout that is greater than the cost of the insurance.

The report also found that the nature of the car sales environment could influence the decision making of consumers, where conflicts of interest and pressure sales tactics are present.

ASIC said the intention of the report was to put general insurers “on notice” that they needed to improve consumer outcomes through changes to the pricing, sale and design of add-on insurance.

Mr Kell said the report would be followed by further work to improve the space, including potential enforcement action and attempts to enable refunds for consumers who have been sold inappropriate products.

In response to the findings, the Insurance Council of Australia announced a range of proposed measures to “address ASIC’s concerns about these products and sales practices”.

Their suggested changes included a transition to capping commissions at 20 per cent, enhanced disclosure about policy terms, improved sales and communications systems and a financial literacy initiative to improve industry’s response to customer queries.

“Add-on insurance policies play a role in protecting consumers when they make some of the biggest purchases of their lives,” said Insurance Council of Australia CEO Rob Whelan.

“They can protect policyholders who lose jobs, become sick or injured, or write-off their vehicles, from potentially crippling debts. However, insurers agree that improvements can be made.”

Consumer advocate Consumer Action Law Centre said the findings of the ASIC report were “damning” and highlighted the “atrocious value and shocking sales practices at car yards”.

“Flogging junk insurance has been going on too long,” said Gerard Brody, CEO of Consumer Action Law Centre.

“A business model that relies on commission driven sales, products with little to no value and in many cases illegal selling needs to be stamped out now. Any Australian who’s shopped in a car yard needs to check their paperwork and fight back.”

Through Consumer Action’s online resource Australians have made claims for more than $300,000.

One such consumer was Paul Quinn, who was led to believe he needed “gap insurance” to get approval for a loan when buying his Toyota RAV4 five years ago, at a cost of an extra $1090.

“But I didn’t need it because I had comprehensive insurance, which covers the vehicle in the event of a total loss, and there was a reducing debt,” said Mr Quinn told Fairfax Media in June.

The report released by ASIC on Monday followed two reports earlier this year, which found life insurance sold as an add-on product through car dealers could cost 18 times more than cover obtained through other channels.

Five common add-on insurance products reviewed by ASIC

  • Consumer credit insurance (CCI) – protects a consumer’s ability to make repayments under a credit contract (this includes insurance for the consumer against injury, sickness, disability, unemployment or death).


  • Loan termination insurance or ‘Walkaway’ insurance – similar to the above, but the difference is the main benefit is payable only if the car is returned to the dealer, so it won’t help a consumer keep the car if they become disabled or sick.


  • GAP insurance – this comes into play if a consumer writes off their car, and gives them cover for the difference between what they owes on their loan, and the market value paid out under their comprehensive car insurance.


  • Tyre and rim insurance – as the name suggests, these cover the cost of repairs tyres and rims damaged on road, by blowouts or punctures.


  • Mechanical breakdown insurance – this is also known as an ‘extended warranty’ and covers the cost of repairing/replacing car parts that have suffered a mechanical failure after the manufacturer’s or dealer’s warranty has expired.


Note: The story Add-on insurance products sold by car dealers are failing consumers: ASIC first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

RAC begins driverless electric shuttle bus trial in Perth, August 31, 2016, By Aimee Chanthadavong

The RAC Intellibus will carry up to 11 passengers in South Perth and operate at an average speed of 25km per hour.

Australia’s first driverless electric shuttle bus has hit the roads of Perth, Western Australia as part of an initial trial run by the Royal Automobile Club of WA (RAC) in partnership with the Western Australian government and vehicle manufacturer Navya

As part of the trial, the RAC Intellibus will carry passengers along South Perth Esplanade between the Old Mill, near the Narrows Bridge, and Sir James Mitchell Park. It can carry up to 11 passengers and will operate at an average speed of 25km per hour.

“We anticipate this first step in exploring driverless technology will start a conversation on further trials, research, and collaboration, which will increase WA’s understanding of how driverless vehicles can integrate into our transport system,” RAC group CEO Terry Agnew said.

“The trial will help WA develop a roadmap of changes that will need to occur for driverless vehicles to safely transition on to our roads and become an integrated part of our transport system.

Australia’s industry body for driverless vehicles, the Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative, agreed there are various potential use cases for the driverless electric bus.

“These are the perfect sized vehicles for use as an airport shuttle service, where passengers can be ferried from the terminal to their city hotel, around shopping centre carparks, or even from ride and park nodes, where someone can drive to a near-city parking spot and then be driven into the CBD for work after that,” Peter Damen, ADVI spokesperson, said.

“Similarly, these types of vehicle could replace the current use of large buses for public transport, with smaller, more frequent shuttles delivering passengers to where they want to go, rather than the often inconvenient ‘pick up and drop’ timetable arrangement of a bus stop.”

WA Innovation Minister Bill Marmion said the trial shows how innovation can reduce environmental impacts and also deliver to the community.

The shuttle has been tested off-road in a closed environment since its arrival in WA in April.

In South Australia similar tests were conducted at the end of last year by the South Australian government together with national independent road research agency ARRB Group that saw the successful trial of the country’s first driverless car on Adelaide’s Southern Expressway. The trial involved two Volvo XC90 vehicles that demonstrated automatic lane keeping, adaptive cruise control, and active queue assist.

Shortly after, the South Australian government became the first Australian state to introduce laws to allow on-road trials of driverless cars.

Transport and Infrastructure Minister Stephen Mullighan said companies looking to trial technologies on South Australia’s roads will simply have to submit plans of the proposed trial and have sufficient insurances to protect themselves and the public.

“These laws have received praise from companies at the forefront of this industry, which is estimated to be worth AU$90 billion within 15 years,” Mullighan said.

“South Australia is now positioned to become a key player in this emerging industry and by leading the charge, we are opening up countless new opportunities for our businesses and our economy.”

Following a test drive in the self-driving Tesla model S car, New South Wales Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts said earlier this year he intended to bring autonomous cars to the state, saying autonomous electric cars were the “future of driving” in NSW.

Most businesses unprepared for driverless cars, 26 Jul 2016, by Jordan Lynn

A survey conducted by Munich Re has shown that most businesses are unprepared for driverless cars.

Conducted at the 2016 Risk and Insurance Management Society Conference (RIMS), the survey found that 65% of risk managers believe their companies have done nothing to prepare for the emergence of autonomous vehicles (AVs).

Mike Scrudato, senior vice president, mobility domain at Munich Re US, told Insurance Business that the insurance industry still has a ways to go before it is ready for the emergence of driverless technology.

“We believe liability will shift, exposures will be more complex and coverage issues will take time to emerge,” Scrudato said.

“Insurers need to understand the issues, be prepared to adjust, and develop innovative solutions for the risks AVs will present.”

Scrudato noted that the development and rollout of autonomous vehicles has great potential to increase road safety but insurers need to respond quickly to evolving risks.

“AVs provide an opportunity to significantly increase safety and reduce losses related to vehicle crashes.

“The challenge is for insurers to respond quickly with new products that address the unique risks AVs  will present.”

One aspect of driverless technology that surveyed risk managers were quick to point out was security as 55% feel cyber security is the greatest insurance concern associated with autonomous vehicles.

“We feel there are increasing cyber risks as vehicles become more autonomous and more connected,” Scrudato said.

“Cyber is not a forgotten aspect of this exposure, but one of the many aspects of the liability that will evolve over time.”

Allocation of liability when autonomous and non-autonomous vehicles shared the road was listed by 27% as the top concern, whilst 7% listed economic disruption and safety.

Scrudato stressed that the time to act is now as the reality of driverless cars draws closer.

“We feel it is a matter of when, not if, autonomous vehicles will be a reality,” Scrudato continued.

“There are partially autonomous vehicles on the road today, and car makers are taking every opportunity to invest in this technology.”

Tesla’s Autopilot Driving Mode Is A Legal Nightmare, July 14, by William Turton

The revelation last month that a fatal car cash involved Tesla’s “Autopilot” feature has sparked a debate over liability when it comes to assisted driving: Who’s legally at fault in a crash if a car is being somewhat controlled by a computer?

Tesla offered a statement following the May 7 fatal crash:

“The vehicle was on a divided highway with Autopilot engaged when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S. Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied”.

The car crashed directly into the bottom of the trailer, and the entire top of the vehicle was “torn off by the force of the collision,” according to a local newspaper. The driver was killed.

Last month, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that they would investigate the crash. The truck driver involved in the crash claimed that the Tesla driver appeared to be watching a Harry Potter movie on a portable DVD player when the collision happened. According to the police investigation, however, the DVD player found in the Tesla was not running during the time of the crash.

One issue Tesla faces is that the company calls its assisted driving feature “Autopilot”, even though it doesn’t fully automate driving capabilities. The feature, which Tesla says is in beta, helps drivers stay within a lane, shift lanes and detects potential collisions. The NHTSA regulates these features and has a classification for different levels of car automation. Level 0 is your standard car, where the “driver is in complete and sole control of the primary vehicle”, and Level 4, the maximum, is described as “Full Self-Driving Automation”.

The prevailing question over crashes involving Autopilot is whether the drivers are aware of the risk they are taking when driving with Autopilot turned on.

According to Gabriel Weiner, a US lawyer who maintains Stanford’s wiki on legislative and regulatory action related to autonomous driving, Tesla’s autopilot mode fits squarely into Level 2 of the NHTSA’s classification. “When you call something ‘Autopilot’, are you suggesting to drivers this is something like a Level 4, when in reality it’s a Level 2?” Weiner said.

The problem may be that the term autopilot may be just enough to lull drivers into the false sense that the car doesn’t need any user input, and can just simply drive itself. Ryan Calo, assistant professor of law at the University of Washington, said if drivers are deemed to be aware of the risk, it may let Tesla off the hook. “Because we’re talking about physical safety,” Calo said, “courts and regulators will likely hold Tesla to a higher standard.”

Tesla, for its part, says that it is continuously educating customers on the use of its vehicles’ features by reminding them that they’re responsible for remaining alert even when Autopilot is being used. In a blog post titled “Your Autopilot Has Arrived” the company clearly states that the driver is “still responsible, and ultimately in control of, the car”. The company also includes similar language in the owner’s manual of its Model S and Model X and there’s a prompt on the centre screen of the cars when Autopilot is engaged saying: “Please keep your hands on the wheel. Be prepared to take over at any time.”

In a 2014 interview with Bloomberg, Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of Tesla, compared Autopilot to the same feature used in aeroplanes, meaning that the pilot still has to be monitoring the vehicle and providing verification and validation.

“The onus is on the pilot to make sure they’re doing the right thing,” Musk said. “We’re not yet at a stage where you can go to sleep and wake up at your destination. We would have called it autonomous instead of autopilot if that was the case.”

When asked who would be responsible if a driver tried to use the Autopilot feature to switch lanes but instead crashed into a highway barrier, Musk said, “We’re going to be quite clear with customers that the responsibility remains with the driver.”

This differs from Google’s, Volvo’s and Mercedes’s stance on driverless cars and liability. Those companies have all said that they would take responsibility for any crashes involving driverless cars.

Tesla’s cars, however, collect and store more more data than your standard car which may help them paint a picture of exactly how certain crashes happened. “This [May 7 fatal] crash is unique in that there will be a lot more digital data, most of which Tesla hasn’t released that could provide further clarity,” Bryant Walker Smith, an assistant professor of law at South Carolina University, told Gizmodo. “But even before we get to Tesla, it’s important to acknowledge that the truck driver in this crash may be at least partly at fault.”

Still, it’s likely that cases will be brought against the company from different drivers. There have been two non-fatal crashes in the US reportedly linked to Autopilot, the most recent in Montana on July 11.

The legal question of liability will also depend on where crashes happen, whether they are in different countries or different states within a country. “This is very specific state by state, although Florida tends to have a broader view of liability,” Smith said.

People could also potentially bring claims against Tesla for Autopilot not performing as intended, resulting in a crash. If someone tried to use the automatic lane switcher, but ended up crashing into another car beside it, Tesla could very well end up being liable.

“The plaintiff or the injured person in this type of case would need to establish Tesla’s unreasonable conduct or the product’s unreasonable performance,” Smith said.

“Tesla, in defence, would point to the driver’s behaviour. They might say it was an assumption of risk that the driver, knowing the system was imperfect, chose to use it in this way. Or they may argue that the driver himself was simply careless in using the system.”

It’s still unclear if the fatal Florida crash will go to court, but it certainly won’t be the last of Tesla’s woes. Tesla told The New York Times that they have no plans to disable the feature, and that Autopilot is currently enabled in 700,000 cars.

Umbrella Liability

You would hate to be responsible for someone being hurt or falling ill because of your business. And the financial consequences can also be severe. That’s why having an effective and compliant work health and safety system in place is essential to long term, sustainable success.

As a business owner, you have a responsibility to make sure that your employees, customers and the public won’t be harmed by anything your business does.

And creating a safe work environment not only helps you meet your obligations — it can also help you retain key staff and maximise productivity, by avoiding unnecessary costs from workplace injury and illness.