Getting urban China to work properly is vital to the country’s future. However, rapid urbanisation has left China’s public road network and transport infrastructure overburdened. First, China’s road infrastructure has not kept pace with car sales. Despite government efforts to curb new car registrations, China’s roads are heaving with vehicles and the congestion and emissions they bring. Second, automobile accidents kill 500 people every day in China. This is double the per capita rate of developed nations and 94% of these crashes are due to human error. Third, by 2030, 70% of China’s population will live in cities. Urban mobility will depend on syncronised public and private transportation networks. Although the list is daunting, autonomous vehicles and connected mobility solutions are promising to reduce the number of cars on the road by 40%, vehicle emissions by 70%, and traffic accidents by 90%. Against this backdrop, we consider what these shifts mean for insurers, and how insurers can position themselves to capitalise on this new norm.
China has a smartphone penetration rate of 94%. This, coupled with the current gridlock in many Chinese cities has given rise to several telematics initiatives. Although Pay How You Drive policies have yet to be approved by the regulator, several apps have emerged to allow drivers to better monitor their driving behaviour and perform route analysis. Some of these include Chelian, Okchexian, UBI001, DiNA, Zebra Drive, Nicigo.
The second wave of disruption within transport is the notion of ‘connected mobility’. Connected mobility is the use of advanced analytics across public and private transport networks to optimise traffic flows, match supply and demand, and provide route planning. In this way, and if deployed correctly, , just 15% of the current volume of vehicles will be needed, and insurers will be needed to cover new use cases and capitalize on location based offerings. Some examples of connected mobility efforts in China include: AMAP, Baidu/Alibaba/Tencent, Nio, Thunderstruck, iMorpehus.ai and FutureMove, Qoros Auto.
China has made self-driving cars part of its national agenda. As Beijing scrambles to draft autonomous driving laws, several initiatives are already pushing forward. BMW demonstrated automatic lane changing on a Chengdu highway in June and a prototype built by Chinese search giant Baidu recently drove 18 miles through Beijing. Additionally, driverless transport will depend heavily on local government support. Tangshan City in north China has built the Caofeidian Automatic Driving Truck Base to test autonomous commercial fleets while Wuhu, a city 200km west of Shanghai, is bidding to become the first city in the world to go totally driverless by 2025. It’s important to remember the technology involved in autonomous driving is tricky. Free space estimation, general object detection and emergency steering all require 100% accuracy levels and even slightly adverse weather conditions can interfere with crucial readings.
Security vulnerabilities from software bugs and deliberate attacks are possible in any software. It’s important to remember that cyber risks will be eliminated as autonomous vehicles mature. Toyota’s recall of 9 million vehicles in 2010 shows the degree to which technical oversights can and will happen. In another instance, Tesla admitted a breach that permitted remote access to functions including turn signals and brake pads. Ultimately, the threat of software failure or hacking is even more concerning considering the reality of autonomous vehicles traveling at speed and in close proximity to pedestrians.
5G & AI
5G infrastructure will be integral to the evolution of IoT and will revolutionize our everyday lives by, for example, allowing us to track our kids via electric sensors on their backpacks and pre-select parking spaces before arriving at a local shopping mall. 5G is going to disrupt manufacturing as we know it through next level intelligent automation. If the revolution does happen anytime soon, Huawei has already positioned itself at the forefront of the movement. In the era of artificial intelligence, the value associated with automobiles is being redefined. The human-like decision-making process by AI technology in transportation connects people, cars, and roads, leading to smart, ecologic driving. AI in China’s transportation industry dramatically changes the course of history in the field of transport not only in China but all over the world. Computing power and high-value data are the core strengths of the multi-dimensional transportation industry. AI in China’s transportation industry uses such as self-driving cars, computer vision security at metro stations, and “Urban brain” traffic analysis, leads transportation towards an intelligent era. AI in China’s transportation industry To maintain constant efficiency and the accuracy, Guangzhou implemented AI in their public transport, “smart security” at three metro stations. After the users register the face scan through their mobile phone app, they can quickly pass the device security check-in system by scanning their face or the QR code in less than 2 seconds. In Shanghai, the railway station officially launched the real-name verification system supported by AI face recognition technology. Passengers holding the second-generation ID card can scan their face into the train station. When the passenger approaches the machine, it will automatically compare the passengers’ information with the photo on the ID card. Once the information all matched, the gate will open, and the passenger could enter the station. Imperceptibly for Chinese people, AI in public transport fits well into a bustling daily life.