Insurance has been viewed as a very traditional industry for many years, so I was really excited to be able to see ‘up close’ one of the projects that really makes AXA stand out as a leader in the world of financial services.
I’ve been talking about the driverless car pilot to candidates for a couple of years in my role as a Talent Sourcer, so I knew a little about VENTURER before receiving my coveted invitation to attend the showcase event on 14th September. The subject of driverless cars is one that candidates get really excited about so I was keen to see it first-hand.
The day was hosted at Future Space and Bristol Robotics Laboratory at the University of West of England (UWE) campus – (think advanced robotics and men in white coats conducting top secret experiments- or that’s how it appeared to me!). I wanted to peer into every cubicle to see what on earth they were up to.
We started the day with an overview of the VENTURER project, and there was an opportunity for the audience to ask questions. The advantages of autonomous vehicles are clear- lower levels of pollution, congestion, fewer insurance claims, providing options for those who can’t drive themselves- so everyone was very interested to hear of the progress and even more keen to experience it for ourselves.
After the intro, we were invited to take a ride in a driverless car simulator – basically a mock-up of the actual experience in a beautiful Range Rover to give you a sense of how it might feel in a ‘normal’ car. It’s a very strange feeling to be on the passenger’s side, watching the wheel turning by itself!
After the simulator demonstration, we had a chance to try out the Wildcat- the outdoor test vehicle. Bristling with sensors, we were safely driven by the Wildcat vehicle around the UWE campus carpark. Admittedly, our top speed was 10 miles per hour, but it was very impressive to see the Wildcat dealing with corners, stops, junctions and oncoming vehicles. I actually forgot that I wasn’t being driven by a human at one point!
I can really see how this could change people’s lives in the future. Driverless cars are coming, and our involvement in VENTURER puts us at the leading edge of InsureTech and showcases our innovative spirit!
Karen Bleakley – Senior Talent Sourcing Manager AXA UK