Startup Watch: NAUTO

Advanced Driver Assistance startup NAUTO just announced splashy partnerships with BMW, Toyota, and the German insurance giant Allianz.

The Allianz participation is particularly interesting, because it touches on lots of the privacy concerns raised by autonomous vehicles. From NAUTO’s website:

NAUTO’s artificial intelligence-driven connected camera and smart-cloud provide auto insurers a complete, context-rich picture of driver behavior and fleet risk, in real-time. NAUTO detects driver attention, coaches drivers and warns of collisions, keeps fleet managers in touch with their drivers and helps them optimize vehicle deployment.

It sounds like NAUTO is helping insurance companies score drivers, which the insurers would presumably use to offer more customized rates.

This seems like it could be a huge win for any one insurer — get a leg up on the competition — but it might be a race to the bottom if every insurer is able to get their hands on some version of this data.

At some level, insurance pricing is based on the insurer taking on the risk in exchange for a fee. If there’s a lot less risk, mostly because drivers and insurers know more about each driver’s behavior, then there’s less need to pay insurers to manage the diminishing risk.

But I’m hardly an insurance executive and I’d be curious to learn their take on this.

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