The advent of autonomous cars has opened the door wide to the use of existing and proposed data collected by cars. The American government has published guidelines that now will guide the type of data required to be collected in order to improve the transportation ecosystem. Cars have become highly sophisticated and their onboard computers will continue to collect ever more detailed and sophisticated information beyond speed and telemetry of the car - alcohol/drug impairment, road conditions, speed and direction of pedestrians/animals/cyclists, weather, all other vehicles in the area will be considered by the computer algorithms.
We know that over 90% of all car crashes are caused by human error. Many of them involving injury or death in which case blame is assigned and insurance settlements are made. The use of the data will make it easier to assess blame and resolve disputes. Many accidents go unwitnessed and the ‘data’ about the accidents comes from the parties involved and often is curated by police. From there the accident may be further investigated by the insurance companies, but essentially the investigation is based on initial facts collected. The increased number of sensor on the roads and the level of detail that will be available no fault accidents will no longer exist.
Imagine the cost savings to insurance companies if the entire accident scenario is replayed from the cars onboard computer systems. Imagine the number of crashes that may be avoided if the cars can communicate with one another to avoid the crash altogether. Once autonomous vehicles are on the road the number of deaths and injuries should reduce drastically.
While cars with drivers remain on the roadways the process of settling claims should be made much quicker. This will be of tremendous benefit to those injured in accidents. It will also relieve the burden on courts and commissions left to settle or arbitrate the most serious cases.
The massive amounts of data collected will become an issue whether we embrace fully automated cars or not. The data should be used to create better driving practices, and better safer vehicles and road ways. We will also have to take care to account for the security required to protect the vehicles from tampering, and the data from being misused. The legislators will continue to play catch up for a while longer in this ever evolving technological era.