New Mobility

“Just activating the robo-chauffeur –  that will be coming”

Even if drivers in Germany remain skeptical about automated driving: For ERGO and cooperation partners, this trend offers enormous opportunities. Andreas Bradt from ERGO Mobility Solutions reveals why.

Mr. Bradt, when it comes to safe driving, according to the ERGO Risiko-Report 2019 (see screenshot in German below), three-quarters of Germans trust themselves more behind the wheel than they would trust a “robo-chauffeur”. Does this match your observations – and what is your personal opinion on the subject?

Indeed, in my daily interactions with automotive and technology-savvy representatives of the automotive and mobility industries, I observe a lot of confidence and trust in automated driving and the associated technical solutions – but in my circle of acquaintances, most people are actually still skeptical at the moment. However, we should also not forget: The majority of society has not yet been able to experience automated driving for themselves. Making these technologies accessible and thus breaking down certain prejudices would therefore be an important hurdle that we have to overcome on the way to the mass introduction of automated driving. Regarding the second part of your question: On the one hand, I myself am a passionate driver, but on the other hand I also see many advantages in simply activating the “robo-chauffeur” for a change and devoting myself to other activities.

How far have we come with the topic of “automated driving" in this country - and what are the next stages? Please give our readers an update ...

Up to now, registered vehicles have offered a maximum of “Level 2” automation. Although this means they have sophisticated assistance systems, the driver still has to keep his hands on the wheel and devote his full attention to the traffic. However, German manufacturers in particular are already working very intensively on “Level 3” automation, the “robo-chauffeur” mentioned at the beginning. In certain situations, the driver will then be allowed to take his hands off the wheel and devote himself to other activities. Mercedes, for example, wants to bring this technology stage to market maturity by 2021. In parallel, there are a large number of development and test projects being carried out by technology companies such as Google to develop “robotaxis” with a “Level 4” or even “Level 5” level of automation, in which the vehicles no longer have a steering wheel.

What does this rapid development mean for ERGO? Why is it so important for us as an insurer to be at the forefront of this development - and how do we ensure that we don't miss the boat?

Automated or even autonomous driving will bring major changes, especially for risk assessment, pricing, and claims processing. But the type of products and our product composition will also adapt to the new requirements. For example, the increasing use of sensor technology and processing power means that risk assessment in particular is becoming more and more “data-driven” – and can soon even be carried out by the vehicle itself. We at EMS see a great opportunity for the entire Munich Re Group in such intelligent use of data – but also a great need for action. That is why we have been preparing intensively since our foundation – even if practical experience with autonomous cars is currently still limited to test projects, both on private and public roads. 

At Munich Re level, however, we are already insuring autonomous test vehicles from more than 20 providers in Europe, North America and Asia. The design of the corresponding policies is currently based on individual case evaluations and initial assumptions – whereby we are very specific about the respective application. However, since the beginning of the cooperations we have gradually entered into since the beginning of 2017 – just think of BMW or Great Wall Motor – it has become clear that close cooperation with the manufacturers of these future technologies is essential in order to understand how the various systems that will be installed in autonomous driving cars work.

Excerpt from the ERGO Risiko Report 2019 (in German only): Three out of four German citizens trust themselves more at the wheel than they would trust a robo-chauffeur: