Self-Driving Cars are Confusing Drivers – and Spooking Insurers

The great promise of autonomous vehicles, aside from saving you from the tyranny of commuting, is their ability to save lives by replacing stupid humans with intelligent computers. But these cars, at least in the short-term, could make driving riskier because people don’t yet understand the technology or just how it works.

British auto insurance companies call this “autonomous ambiguity,” and it is not an abstract issue. Automakers like Audi, Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, and Volvo already or will very soon offer vehicles that do some of the driving for you. In a new white paper, the Association of British Insurers argues that drivers don’t understand the limitations of these semi-autonomous systems, and believe their car is more capable than it really is.

“This risk of autonomous ambiguity could result in a short term increase in crashes,” said Peter Shaw, CEO of Thatcham Research which collaborated on the report.

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