As with any new travel technology, autonomous self-driving vehicles will no doubt result in a few accidents when they first begin appearing on our roads. Aside from potentially putting millions of drivers out of business, autonomous vehicles present all sorts of ethical debates and dilemmas because they introduce all sorts of new philosophical Trolley problems. What should autonomous cars do in the event of an oncoming accident if all of their options result in humans getting harmed? Who is responsible if an autonomous vehicle causes an accident? Who pays for the medical bills of any humans harmed? Because of these burning questions, one of the biggest names in autonomous vehicle technology has partnered with a new insurance startup to introduce the first insurance for riders in a driverless ride-hailing service.
That announcement came from Waymo, the self-driving vehicle unit of Google’s parent company Alphabet. Waymo has partnered with Trov, a relatively new insurance tech startup in California, to provide free insurance for any passengers who are harmed as a result of riding in a Waymo vehicle. The insurance is paid for entirely by Waymo and will insure passengers for any damaged or lost property and any medical expenses incurred as a result of a Waymo self-driving vehicle.
In a press release, Trov’s founder and CEO Scott Walchek says the deal with Waymo is one more way that Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs are changing the very nature of many aspects of public life:
This partnership highlights the convergence of the future of transportation with the future of insurance. Waymo is making personal transportation more effortless, and so it follows that all associated aspects of a journey – including insurance – should be equally painless, with passengers’ safety and peace of mind paramount. We are genuinely excited to be partnering with Waymo in developing innovations for insuring people and property in the evolution of personal mobility.
It’s a pretty neat thought. One day, none of us may need to own or drive our own vehicles, meaning we won’t have to insure them as well. Plus, if autonomous vehicles bring the number of accidents down to negligible levels, insurance will be less vital. Waymo vehicles have already driven hundreds of thousands of miles on California roads resulting in only fourteen collisions, thirteen of which were human drivers’ faults. Waymo expects to unveil its first fleets of self-driving hailed vehicles in 2018 in a Phoenix, Arizona suburb.