Autonomous vehicles and flying taxis: the importance of data in managing the risks of tomorrow

Despite being reserved until recently to the realms of science fiction novels, the democratization of autonomous vehicles and flying taxis will, in the years to come, be the starting point for a new revolution in mobility. But with new means of transport come new risks! Data collection and analysis aim to prevent these risks and therefore, it will be crucial in the management of potential losses associated with these new technologies. 


Autonomous vehicles and flying taxis: to meet the mobility challenges of tomorrow 

By 2030, the vehicle overload on city streets in Europe and the United States could generate costs of nearly $300 billion. With this projection comes a realization: that there will be a change in mobility consumption patterns (public bike sharing, car sharing, carpooling, etc.).  

These issues concern the automotive industry, as evidenced by the proliferation of projects aiming to rethink the mobility of tomorrow, particularly with the development of autonomous flying shuttles and taxis. More than 120 research projects are currently underway worldwide.  


Mobility of tomorrow: a technical and regulatory challenge 

The reality is that planes will soon no longer monopolize our skies. The invention of Marseille-born Franky Zapata is a perfect example.  At the annual military parade along the Champs-Élysées on 14 July 2019, he flew over the audience on his hoverboard, making quite an impression. Better still, 20 days later he set a precedent by crossing the English Channel aboard his flying machine.  

In anticipation of these developments, regulatory and infrastructure changes are needed. Complex matters that will probably not be developed within the time frames required by the industry. 

However, it seems only a matter of time before we will be traveling by flying taxi. The Safran Group has announced that it has begun producing electric motors for drones and flying taxis and plans to deliver 200 in 2019. 

To fly, these drones and other autonomous flying machines will need a precise map of the skies to be aware of potential obstacles and respect air corridors. Another technical challenge comes from the need to make databases speak the same language. As flying vehicles may need to cross borders, the authorities of the countries whose airspace they are flying into must be able to check their permissions. 

Finally, a reorganization of the sky is necessaryas there is a very real risk of accidents involving these aircraft. There have already been several collisions between these and other flying machines, particularly in Canada and Mozambique in 2017. Unfortunately, likely, such incidents will only increase given the surge of crafts used by businesses. 


How can we better manage risks related to this revolution? 

It is with these risks in mind that regulators in many countries are working on reforms to their aviation safety and redesigning air corridors to take into account new modes of travel. 

As a loss adjusting and consulting firm, we are preparing for this transition, as we know that despite evermore effective solutions, there is no such thing as zero risks. There will always be incidents that could lead to a loss, of which the causes and circumstances will need to investigate. To effectively prevent and manage these new risks, we rely on the collection and analysis of data relating to the loss experience.  

This is why, within INQUEST, our subsidiary specializing in risk prevention and management, we are developing an investigation unit to collect and analyze data relating to losses. By decoding this data, we will be able to identify the causes and circumstances of the loss. Once its origin has been reconstituted and determined, it will become easier to prevent its repetition and ensure its efficient management. Whether the risks come from an autonomous vehicle or a flying machine, data analysis will represent an essential step in the accidentology of tomorrow. 


Sébastien ELIE – Partner Loss adjuster, Business Line Motors Director

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Sébastien THEILLARD – Automotive & Transports Loss adjuster

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