- Where Insurance & Technology Meet

Can You Say ‘No’ to Driverless Cars?

In July, I attended the 2014 Automated Vehicles Symposium in San Francisco. Over the last three years, attendance at the event has grown significantly. This important increase in attendance mirrors the tremendous rise of interest in the subject of driverless technology as well as the rapid pace of technological advancement necessary to bring driverless vehicles to the consumer in coming years.

I’ll be exploring this at the Executive Forum: Insurance 2024 in October, but here are some highlights I took home from San Francisco.


Interest is up … who’s saying ‘no’?

I recently did a quick Google Trends search on the word DRIVERLESS and as you might assume, the increase in the popularity of the technology is reflected in the  number of individuals researching the subject (see diagram opposite).

As the technology becomes better known, its opponents are starting to take position. These naysayers include those who drive as a profession (understandable as driverless vehicles would obliterate the driving profession) as well as those whose business model (in fact, the very existence of their business) depends on the current inefficient mobility system continuing on the same path. Numerous businesses are part of this latter category, including automobile manufacturing, auto repair, driving schools, many in the legal profession, etc, etc.

Instead of acknowledging that the commercialization and adoption of this technology is inevitable (for safety, environmental and congestion reasons to name a few – discussed in previous articles and blogs on and preparing for it, many businesses are instead choosing to belittle the technology in the media and lobby government groups to delay changes in regulations legalizing the circulation of these vehicles on the jurisdiction’s roads and highways.

Does ‘no’ mean ‘not’?

While numerous presentations and speeches were made at the 2014 Automated Vehicles Symposium, one presentation and in particular one slide (and accompanying comments) stuck in mind. Here is the slide that Ralf Herrtwich of Daimler presented to a standing room only audience:


Herrtwich asked if anyone recognized any of the names / brands on the slide. No one did. Well … they are all brands of the leading horse carriage manufacturers who went out of business with the arrival of the revolutionary technology known as the automobile.

Businesses can either accept that the next revolutionary technology – driverless vehicles –  will be among us and prepare for its commercialization and adoption or suffer the fate of so many forgotten brands / companies.

One car manufacturer is saying ‘yes’ …

Daimler has chosen to adapt. All while continuing to manufacture its various automobile brands, the company, recognizing the opportunities afforded by the shared economy, has vertically integrated forward into the car sharing space with car2go. Daimler is also one of the leading developers of driverless technology. The Mercedes S class is equipped with one of the most advanced autonomous drive systems currently available on the market.

How can you prepare?

Are you preparing for the upcoming driverless revolution?  Join me at the Executive Forum: Insurance 2024, in Toronto, on October 7th, and determine how this technology may be impacting your business model in the foreseeable future.