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OFF BEAT: Google queries insurers on coverage for driverless cars


How close are we as consumers to whizzing around in fully automated cars? Only the auto insurers know for sure.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Google Inc. has approached several major car insurance underwriters to gauge the coverage implications making of its driverless car technology available to the commercial market, according to a news report.

"They see the opportunities for this technology being really positive," Anthony Levandowski, the product manager for Google's self-driving car, said in a keynote address Wednesday at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress in Detroit, according to the report. "From their point of view, this technology is not going to be released until it’s safe.”

Mr. Levandowski did not reveal which insurers had been approached. According to reports, discussion between Google project leaders and underwriters focused on, among other things, the challenges of applying separate rates and liability standards for policyholders based on whether they manually operate their car or engage the automated navigation.

In March, Google announced that it logged more than 200,000 miles of automated driving without accidents.

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