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Will new automotive technologies prevent serious injury, death?

By James Levendusky  |  January 15, 2015

By 2020, no one will be killed or seriously injured in a Volvo. That was just one of the astounding technology-related projections I heard while attending the Consumer Electronics Show and Consumer Telematics Show 2015 in early January.

Volvo and many other automakers are developing a huge number of additional technologies that have far-reaching consequences for insurers.

I want to share some additional anecdotes from the conference—they feature a selection of automotive technologies insurers should monitor and evaluate for ways insurance policy structures and rates may need to change.

Technology innovations such as self-driving cars will make us safer.
International Consumer Electronics Show attendees examine technology innovations as they’re introduced to the marketplace.

Self-driving cars

Today, about 1.3 million people across the globe die in car accidents. That statistic may become obsolete when cars no longer crash because they use autonomous driving and connected vehicle technology.
Automating driving removes the human element—the cause of most accidents. Volvo is already testing self-driving cars and said that in 2017, it will test 100 cars on public roads with actual customers behind the wheel.

Volvo is also developing camera and radar technologies to anonymously send data to traffic authorities and connect cyclists and cars using two-way communication, proximity alerts, and road friction data.


Designed to disrupt the status quo of infotainment, wearable technologies include smart watches, Google Glass, and biometric measuring devices. Smart watches may be able to connect with vehicles to provide alerts using data as disparate as heart rate and parking angles. It's even possible that wearables will replace your car key, especially if the technology can also open the door to your home.

As we become more interested in new gadgets, the car is becoming an accessory to the wearable device, rather than the other way around.

Connected Cars

Today, you can use telematics tools to unlock your car using a smart phone and get maps and data on a car's location and travels. You can even preheat and precool your car.

But the Internet of Things (IoT) — the interconnection of stand-alone systems and services—is bringing a paradigm shift to the auto industry in the form of highly connected vehicles.

By 2020, we could see 150 million connected cars as part of the IoT, allowing us to remotely monitor and manage dozens of auto and home functions from a single device. The phone is currently the focal point, but we could see cars with embedded, phone-aligned apps.

The technology could "learn" your habits and automatically turn up the heat if you're heading home and lock your car doors if you're going away.

Companies would have the opportunity to gather information to better understand customers, leading to improved consumer experiences and brand allegiance.

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