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Is Detroit Moving Towards Self-Driving Cars?

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In an effort to keep up with the times, automotive industry giants like General Motors and Ford are investing in technology that should keep them ahead of the pack in an industry that is rapidly evolving. As of late, Silicon Valley is seeing its share of investment capital from the two Detroit-based auto companies as they seek to move forward with the development of self-driving cars. There is still plenty of conjecture as to just how fast these companies plan to work towards the release of high-tech vehicles, but one thing is certain; they are indeed working towards that end.

General Motors Acquires Cruise Automation

GM President Dan Ammann (right) with Cruise Automation founders Kyle Vogt (center) and Daniel Kan (left)

GM President Dan Ammann (right) with Cruise Automation founders Kyle Vogt (center) and Daniel Kan (left)

General Motors announced that it has acquired a startup in San Francisco—Cruise Automation—in an effort to assist with the development and testing of driverless technology in urban environments. The California startup, which has been in business for three years, has yet to announce which cities will be earmarked for the program.

Ford Grabs University of Michigan’s Athletic Director

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On the same day, Ford Smart Mobility LLC, a subsidiary created by Ford, announced the appointment of Jim Hackett to the position of chairman. Hackett was previously an interim director of the University of Michigan’s athletic department. Ford intends to use Ford Smart Mobility LLC to begin developing strategies in alternative transportation alongside technologies in self-driving vehicles. On Friday, March 11th, Ford made the announcement that this will be spearheaded in two locations: Palo Alto, California; and Dearborn, Michigan.

Detroit Competing with Silicon Valley

google self-driving car driverless car insurance

The extremely weird-looking Google self-driving car

As a result of ever-changing technology in the automotive industry, both Ford and GM announced their intentions to keep up with their current competitors, as well we new competition from the likes of Google, Apple, and Uber. The two auto giants recognize that they need to become much more in tune with today’s technology in order to avoid being left behind by companies that specialize in the latest gadgets.

How Will This Impact the Insurance Industry?

On top of this news, market analysts are questioning how driverless vehicles will impact the automobile insurance industry. There is a good amount of conjecture as to whether this will make rates go up or down. It is not yet known the extent to which an owner will be liable for accidents, nor how much of the liability will fall on the manufacturer if an accident is the result of technology gone wrong. Then, there are those questioning whether or not motorcycles will also go driverless, and how motorcycle insurance will be impacted by technology if insured motorcycles are involved in collisions with driverless cars.

As many people look forward to driverless technology, others are concerned that the entire automotive and insurance industries will need to be revamped. If there are no drivers as we know them today, who will be responsible for loss incurred in collisions? In a Utopian ideology there would be no accidents, but computers are susceptible to errors as well as humans. Driverless technology is still in infancy stages, so there are still many unanswered questions. One thing is for sure though; Ford and GM are intent on getting in on the ground floor. The rest is yet to come.