There’s a lot of technology looking to drive automotive insurance premiums down. The beginning of this trend was with telematics. The idea that you can monitor the insured party’s vehicle remotely for a range of condition enables insurers to reduce the risks they cover with greater certainty. Then there are dashboard cameras which enable incidents to be reviewed in detail and blame apportioned fairly.
The ultimate end point of this technological journey is the driverless car and companies like Google are indicating that this isn’t too far away.
Another Step on the Path
In the interim, General Motors has announced yet another development that may impact on the premiums of hundreds of thousands of motorists. They say they’ve developed a device which enables them to tell when a driver is distracted from paying attention to the road. They’re confident enough that this technology works that they will be installing them in 500,000 new cars over the next 3-5 years.
The technology itself will be coming from Seeing Machines (which is an Australian company listed on the London stock exchange) which in turn will be working with Takata (a company which specializes in safety devices) so supply GM with their monitoring devices.
How Does the Device Work?
The idea is that the will be cameras installed inside the car which track the motion and rotation of the driver’s head. This data can then be used to generate warnings; for example, if the driver is applying makeup rather than checking their mirrors – they’ll be told to pay more attention to the mirrors in the right way.
And There’s More
The potential for this technology doesn’t end there. You could use it for driver recognition programs which ensure that the right driver is present before the ignition can be activated. You could then, theoretically, stop your children from driving your car late at night by limiting their ability to activate the vehicle to during the day and early evenings.
If the car is stolen; it could also capture images of the individual thief making it easier for the police to catch them – particularly if it was combined with a 3G broadcasting system so images are sent in real time.
Then, to take things a little further still you could monitor things like pupil dilation and incorporate additional sensors for vital signs to ensure that the driver is healthy and sober before taking the wheel.
In fairness, it remains to be seen how these devices will perform on the road in the mass market and insurers can probably relax until the technology becomes fully accepted.