State Farm patented technology to monitor vehicle ‘autonomous operation’ functions

State Farm has been granted a patent for technology that monitors the status of its customers’ vehicles’ “self-driving” features in order to adjust premiums based on calculated risk levels.

The technology will also allow the system to attempt to diagnose and correct problems it detects with the vehicle’s sensors, including the calibration of one or more sensors.

Instructions for maintenance performed on the vehicle can be transmitted to a server to determine whether risk levels and policy-related costs should be adjusted.

The patent language appears to assume that the operation of autonomous or semi-autonomous driving functions will increase vehicle safety, thereby reducing risk and policy costs.

“Operator error, inattention, inexperience, misuse, or distraction contribute to many vehicle accidents each year, resulting in injury and damage,” the patent states. “An automatic or semi-autonomous vehicle that augments the vehicle operator’s information or replaces the vehicle operator’s control commands to operate the vehicle, in whole or in part, through a computer system based on information from sensors within the vehicle.”

The technology will directly link the functionality of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) components to the cost of a single policy. To date, research has mainly focused on the impact of ADAS technology on crash rates.

“Past and current premium determination methods do not … consider the use of autonomous vehicle operating functions. Current embodiments may … mitigate this and/or other disadvantages associated with conventional techniques,” the patent states.

This raises some interesting points. Does this mean State Farm acknowledges the need to ensure these safety systems operate as designed after a crash? And, if State Farm refuses to charge the body shop to replace or calibrate the scanner, will it charge policyholders more for additional risk?

Repairer Driven News contacted State Farm about the issue but did not hear back by the deadline.

According to the recent “Who Pays Why?” survey on scanning and calibration, State Farm was the least likely operator to reimburse stores for sensor calibration costs, with 82.8% of stores reporting that it “always” or “most of the time “Pay the fee.

State Farm said its patent may relate to “unmanned driving operation, accident avoidance or collision warning systems” that can provide assistance to the driver or take full control of the vehicle.

It said consumers could opt for a plan that would offer insurance discounts in exchange for allowing their data to be shared with the carrier.

As described in the patent, the system would work in this way: An on-board computer, mobile device or server connected to the vehicle would receive a request to determine the operating status of the vehicle’s functions. It then sends test signals and generates a report based on the information received. This report will be stored in memory for future use and presented to the driver.

The system can also send a report to a server, which “may further receive one or more indications that maintenance should be performed on the autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicle” and determine whether the cost of the policy should be adjusted.

Costs associated with an insurance policy may include premiums, discounts, surcharges, rate levels, costs based on distance traveled, costs based on vehicle trips, and/or costs based on the duration of vehicle operation.

The patent envisions a system that can detect, “diagnose and/or correct problems with autonomous operating functions.” For example, if a sensor is damaged by snow, mud, or other environmental factors, a “remedial module” might attempt to make corrections, including potential calibration of the sensor.

The language doesn’t detail how this will be done, including whether OEM programs will be used for diagnostics, repairs, and calibration.

The system will be triggered by specific events, such as when the vehicle is opened or closed, or when it is involved in an accident.

The patent, number 11494175, was filed in October. Published online November 21, 2020 Issue 8, 2022.

More information

UK study finds use of 6 ADAS features reduces crashes by almost 24%


Featured image via metamorworks/iStock

The chart visually compares each insurance company’s relative payment frequency based on the combined score of all responses. (CRASH network and collision advice)

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