Published on April 23, 2018

Smart road, the interest of insurers

Interview with Umberto Guidoni, Secretary General ANIA Foundation and Auto Manager and ANIA Card Manager

We often speak about smart roads: what does this mean?

Smart roads are the result of a process of digital transformation of road infrastructures. It consists of a technological evolution of the roads that, with the help of advanced systems (such as widespread sensor system inside road pavements and roadside columns; advanced telephone connections), will allow constant, real time communication between running vehicles and the infrastructures themselves.

How does this process develop and conclude?

A progressive digitalization phase, as well as a technological evolution of vehicles, is a must for this process. Two are the phases that we should complete: the first is called V2I, an acronym that stands for Vehicle to Infrastructure and that is based on connection and communication between vehicle and road network. The second is called V2V, that stands for Vehicle to Vehicle: communication between vehicles and exchange of information. Two phases that can be managed in parallel, but it is certainly necessary to renovate the current road network from highways and principal roads.

What kind of data and information will be exchanged and why are they so important?

These data and information are essential to optimizing road traffic, preventing accidents and limiting contingencies. As an example, weather forecast on a specific route or traffic slowdowns or accidents caused by accidents or pavement deterioration. Advance information would avoid unexpected inconveniences and optimize traffic channelling operations, as well as infrastructural maintenance and restoring. Drivers could easily decide to change their course and avoid problems and impediments. Not to mention the importance of route optimization and fuel consumption reduction. Lower traffic and fuel consumption result in emission reduction and lower environmental impact. A third factor, but first in terms of importance, is represented by road safety: the risk of accidents would be significantly reduced.

Which is the role of heavy transport and fleets?

They play a fundamental role, since they will be the first to be connected to smart roads. It is easy to say why: traffic management is a global government target. In addition to this, heavy transport fleets have a physiological, active part in this transformation process because their constant presence on the road turns them in a naturally advanced technological field. Road safety represents, of course, a key factor in this case.

Which are the most representative innovations in the field of heavy transport?

Adaptive driving systems, such as radars or lane control, have been used in heavy transport and fleets at first. They became a reality of the retail world as well. Just like black boxes or video event data recorders, satellite devices equipped with cameras. The development of V2I and V2V will now implement the platooning systems.

Which is the role of the insurance field?

The insurance field has a strong interest in this process, since companies should study and propose new and different types of coverage for automated vehicles. ANIA has a strong presence in national and European territories and is carefully following all the events related to the fundamental modifications concerning the Highway Code. Our current rules do not even provide a definition of automated vehicles and relevant legislation – depending on automation level – nor even of car sharing or pooling and it is necessary to regulate this new traffic flow model. As an example, the German Highway Code has already been modified in accordance to the introduction of these new automated vehicles in 2017.

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