Munich Re works with University of Michigan transportation affiliates for connected and automated vehicle research review

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17 June 2015 | Corporate

Munich Re gathers with University of Michigan transportation affiliates for connected and automated vehicle research review

Recently the University of Michigan's Mobility Transformation Center (MTC) hosted a research review where affiliates, including Munich Re, learned about the research projects underway and those planned for 2015 and beyond. For Munich Re, the review was also an opportunity to connect with the researchers and explore ways to work together. 

Risks accompanies opportunity
“Auto technologies in development, including autonomous and connected cars, are expected to have profound impacts on society and our business,” explains Michael Scrudato, Senior Vice President, New Strategic Markets.“As a leader in our industry we are actively engaged with the leading AV programs across the US to understand, and manage, the opportunities and potential risks that accompany these new technologies.”

Autonomous vehicles, for example, are expected to greatly reduce accidents attributed to human error and, in turn, reduce the social and economic costs to individuals, society and the state. Fewer accidents has the potential to positively impact traditional auto insurance premiums and types. But, will it be replaced with new products for manufacturers of AVs or cyber coverages for manufacturers of AV systems?

Michael Scrudato, SVP, New Strategic Markets

As a leader in our industry we are actively engaged with the top AV programs across the US to understand, and manage, the opportunities and potential risks that accompany these new technologies.

Knowledge partners are key
These are some of the questions being explored by the University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center (MTC). Munich Re and other founding members have agreed to support the MTC’s efforts to “develop the foundations of a commercially viable ecosystem of connected and automated vehicles for moving people and goods” with the goal of dramatically improving safety, sustainability, and accessibility.

“Partnering with external organizations like the University of Michigan gives us access to data and research findings we can use to develop products and solutions to enable these technologies,” explained Scrudato. “It also helps us make connections to other affiliates who may be potential business partners.”

The MTC Cyber Security test center is a particular area of interest to Munich Re. 

Security threat is imminent
Security is a very real threat, acknowledged research scientist André Weimerskirch, a lead MTC researcher in cyber security for automated vehicles. Hacking a car remotely, however, is much more difficult, expensive and time-consuming than many people realize. He pointed to demonstrations like the one that appeared on the television show "60 Minutes" in which a hacker gained complete control over a vehicle leaving the reporter powerless to stop it, took several months and hundreds of thousands of dollars to accomplish. Once hackers find ways to profit from hacking cars, he cautioned, real-world hacking incidents will likely skyrocket. One way his team intends to prepare: detecting anomalies that occur in a vehicle’s systems or the information packets it receives from outside sources to which it is connected.

Driving the Future of Mobility

The University of Michigan is joining with a team of industry, government, and academic partners to develop the foundations of a commercially viable ecosystem of connected and automated vehicles for moving people and goods.

Liability may hinder progress

Liability is another critical area that MTC researchers will focus on over the next year. The liability project team, led by Raymond Bingham, PhD and Diana Bowman, LLB, PhD will develop standards for determining fault and liability in automated vehicle crashes based on legal precedents and instruments that have been applied in Michigan and Illinois to cases involving currently deployed AV technologies. Clear standards for establishing fault is a critical aspect of AV acceptance. Knowing who is responsible (driver, vehicle manufacturer, systems manufacturer) when an accident occurs, is also key for the insurance industry who must develop new products to cover exposures this emerging technology presents.

In July the MTC will unveil Mcity, a 32-acre facility on the University grounds designed to simulate the broad range of complexities vehicles encounter in urban and suburban environments. With Mcity, researchers and their partners, including Munich Re, will have a new dimension in which to evaluate the capabilities of connected and automated vehicles and systems.


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