CES 2020: Connected Things

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13 January 2020
Donald Light

CES is bigger than big, HUGE. By necessity, this is a personal view of CES 2020 . . . focusing on connected vehicles, and connected homes/buildings/factories.

Connected Vehicles

Fully autonomous vehicles (Level 5) continue to recede into the future.

  • BMW offered rides with in an autonomous vehicle with a safety driver
  • The fully autonomous BMW maneuvered around a small closed track

The CEO of VW Autonomy was quoted as saying Level 5 was like going to Mars . . . the auto industry may have to settle for Level 4 (autonomy within defined use cases).

The CEO of a trade group, Alliance for Automotive Innovation, said that ADAS moving toward “guardian angel” model – where technology takes over when humans cannot respond

PACCAR (a major truck manufacturer, which includes Kenworth and Peterbilt) had a very serious looking, but stationary model on display. This is a prototype equipped with multiple, cameras, radar units and LIDAR units.

  • It is being tested on a closed track and on some San Francisco Bay Area roads with a safety driver.

Perhaps not coincidently the US Department of Transportation released its Automated Vehicles 4.0 report during CES. It’s first priority was “Protect Users and Communities”

  1. Prioritize Safety
  2. Emphasize Security and Cybersecurity
  3. Ensure Privacy and Data Security
  4. Enhance Mobility and Accessibility

Key questions for insurers

  • When will scale and technologic advances in ADAS devices make them cheap enough, so that auto physical damage severity declines along with frequency?
  • Can insurers obtain access to automobiles’ and trucks’ operating data; and parse that data to improve pricing and underwriting; and to develop value-added offerings (e.g. that will reduce down time for commercial truck tractors).

Another thread of speculation (or advocacy) for autonomous vehicle could be called the “Smart City Planner”

  • Namely, that a primary impact of autonomous vehicles will be to “change how our cities are structured” and “. . . reducing private vehicle ownership, and “shrinking parking needs because AV’s will not need to park.”
  • As an insurance technology analyst, it is beyond my professional role to judge the advisability of these changes. However, to the degree Smart City Planners have their way, the number of insurable vehicles will drop, commercial auto premium will grow relatively, while personal auto premium shrinks.

Connected Homes / Buildings / Factories

I attended a session on “Bringing Disruptive Technologies into the Smart Factory.”

  • One of the panelists said the manufacturing sector produces a huge amount of data, but until now that data has been locked down. An example: “Airplanes are built on 1’s and 0’s.” Digital twins (during design and maintenance), and frequent batch access to operating data has implications for commercial insurers’ underwriting and loss control processes.

I also had a chance to speak with Roost’s CEO, Roel Peeters. He said that Roost’s and WTW’s home telematics data consortium (with around 1 billion data points) is getting close to publishing some findings regarding actuarial insights on the loss control value of Roost’s sensors and app and services. These findings could provide a real boost for connected home products, pricing, and claims processes. Other vendors, such as Verisk, are following the same path.


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EMEA, North America