Articles, Connected Car, Vehicle Automation

Data Sharing with Insurance Companies: Curse or Blessing?

It’s more blessed to share data than to gather - UK startup Oxbotica wants to provide proof of that claim with its unique approach to improve autonomous vehicles.

Oxbotica was founded in UK as a spin-out from Oxford University’s Department of Engineering Science Mobile Robotics Group. Its focus is on sharing data collected by autonomous cars with authorities and insurance companies. What may sound horrifying for data privacy activists is a thought out approach to improve traffic safety. Oxbotica expects to leverage data transparency and commitment by the authorities, which should help accelerating the development of autonomous driving technology.

Testing process and objectives

The startup is running a fleet of 3 autonomous Ford Fusion models to implement their testing activities. The data is transferred via mobile communication and can be accessed by the insurance company XL Catlin, among others. This creates terabytes of data – daily.

Oxbotica decides which kind of data is forwarded to the authorities. The car delivers data about the current position and speed of the car but also data on route complexity. Data is evaluated by their software under the following aspect: What kind of behavior by the car increases safety – and which actions don’t? By analyzing the data, Oxbotica may identify dangerous maneuvers and prevent the cars from executing them.

Volvo is looking for the Critical Mass

The idea to connect vehicles with each other, is also implemented by Volvo in Scandinavia. Connected cars inform each other about potential road hazards or dense traffic. If, for example, a car uses its hazard lights, this is communicated to surrounding vehicles. The more cars participate in the conversation, the safer gets the traffic. However you need a certain amount of cars to provide a certain degree of safety. Volvo is testing in Sweden and Norway to find that critical mass and has invited more partners to participate in their program.

5G let off the leash

The huge mass of data collected on the roads is a tough challenge for the existing network infrastructure. That’s why the industry and politics count on 5G as a communication standard. The 4G LTE successor shall enable a much higher amount of transmitted data and is expected to work more stable with (almost) real-time data transmission.

Recently Germany set up first testing areas in Berlin and Hamburg. In the USA telecommunication giants Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile plan to commercialize the technology as soon as possible. First practical applications will show if 5G can be the door opener for infotainment and autonomous driving.

About the author:

David Fluhr is journalist and owner of the digital magazine “Autonomes Fahren & Co”. He is reporting regularly about trends and technologies in the fields Autonomous Driving, HMI, Telematics and Robotics. Link to his site:

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