The Safest Car of the Future, According to AI

AI has imagined the safest car of the future. Its refined autonomous driving technology may mean lower car insurance premiums and lower accident rates in the future. However, adoption, viability, and insurance considerations may present a hurdle.

Danny Smith
Written byDanny Smith
Photo of an Insurify author
Danny Smith
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 4+ years in content creation and marketing

As Insurify’s home and pet insurance editor, Danny also specializes in auto insurance. His goal is to help consumers navigate the complex world of insurance buying.

Featured in

media logo
Tanveen Vohra
Edited byTanveen Vohra
Tanveen Vohra
Tanveen VohraManager of Content and Communications
  • Property and casualty insurance specialist

  • 4+ years creating insurance content

Tanveen manages Insurify's data insights, annual home and auto insurance reports, and media communications. She’s regularly featured in media interviews on insurance topics.

Featured in

media logomedia logomedia logomedia logo

Published May 17, 2024 at 5:00 AM PDT

Why you can trust Insurify: Comparing accurate insurance quotes should never put you at risk of spam. We earn an agent commission only if you buy a policy based on our quotes. Our editorial team follows a rigorous set of editorial standards and operates independently from our insurance partners. Learn more.

Car safety has come a long way in the last century — seat belts, airbags, and anti-lock brakes have made driving significantly safer. Seat belts alone saved an estimated 400,000 lives from 1975 to 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

More recent autonomous features, like lane-departure sensors and warnings, and automatic emergency braking, can make driving even safer.

Still, every year, thousands of Americans die in car crashes. Approximately 40,990 fatal accidents occurred in 2023, according to the NHTSA.

In recent years, the auto industry has tested and improved autonomous driving technology. Tesla, the most widely available autonomous vehicle, still only automates steering, braking, and acceleration in specific situations. In these instances, Tesla vehicles require the driver to be alert and respond when necessary.

But some companies have gone even further — Waymo and Cruise deployed autonomous taxis in cities like San Francisco and Phoenix. These taxis are entirely responsible for driving decisions within a designated area.

This progress isn’t without its hiccups, though. After only three months, the California Department of Motor Vehicles suspended Cruise from operating in the state after the NHTSA noted the autonomous taxis “may not be exercising appropriate caution around pedestrians in the roadway.” The automotive industry still has a long way to go before fully autonomous vehicles earn consumer trust and can be produced at scale.

In the meantime, the future of mass-market autonomous vehicles could very well be a balance between features that maintain driver control and offering best-in-class autonomous safety features. To see what that may look like, Insurify asked the chatbot GPT-4 to design “the safest car of the future.”

Safety features of tomorrow

The “safest car of the future” boasts a few impressive features, such as electric propulsion management, a smart driving companion, and even a virtual reality driver’s ed teacher. Keep in mind that not all these features are real — yet.

Mindful co-pilot

A mindful co-pilot monitors a driver’s physical and emotional state and can take over driving in an emergency. The technology would analyze indicators like breathing rate, speech patterns, and even eye movements to assess the alertness of the driver, give real-time suggestions, and adjust vehicle speed and direction if needed.

A mindful co-pilot would help drivers recognize and respond to health emergencies behind the wheel and prevent drivers whose blood alcohol level exceeds legal limits from starting their car.

Even today, some cars already use driver monitoring systems (DMS). A DMS combines artificial intelligence (AI), cameras, and sensors to assess whether the driver is fit to drive the vehicle. It uses facial recognition software to scan the driver’s face and eyes for signs of fatigue or inattention and then warns the driver with haptic feedback and auditory alerts.

Electric propulsion management

Currently, many electric vehicles just don’t have a long enough battery range or enough available charging stations to be widely adopted by the public. Electric propulsion management, however, would help with this obstacle.

This autonomous feature would monitor and manage the health of a vehicle’s electric powertrain by assessing battery condition, preventing overheating, and ensuring optimal performance through dynamic charging systems. This would extend an electric vehicle’s battery life and improve vehicle safety. It also has the potential to give electric vehicles longer ranges and make them more affordable.

Aerodynamic adaptability

Aerodynamic adaptability would adjust a vehicle’s body panel shape depending on driving conditions. This would improve the car’s aerodynamics and stability in real time, making it safer and more efficient.

Some high-performance vehicles today are already using the technology. For example, active diffusers — essentially extendable and retractable flaps — help reduce drag, which improves fuel efficiency. Active spoilers, which extend and retract similarly to diffusers, are another adaptable aerodynamic technology that improves vehicle stability.

“Aerodynamics are fundamentally important when it comes to safety, helping to create a vortex that uses air to push down on the front tires to find grip,” automotive journalist Charles North VI said. “We use this tech with racing cars. There’s no excuse as to why it shouldn’t be on your everyday car.”

Renewable power-generating panels

Renewable power-generating panels are sleek, flat devices that sit on top of “the safest car of the future.” They would alter vehicle shape for performance, similar to aerodynamic adaptability features, but would also have the ability to collect both kinetic and solar energy to power the systems in the vehicle, saving the battery’s charge.

This kind of technology would revolutionize how far an electric car could travel. Renewable power-generating panels would enable extended mileage ranges by dedicating the battery solely to propulsion. This would make the car more appealing to the average consumer, allowing for wider adoption of electric vehicles.

If these panels were to become standard in vehicles, it would have the potential to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, leading to decreased carbon emissions and ultimately a cleaner, safer environment.

Some auto manufacturers are already incorporating forms of solar roofs into some of their vehicles. Particular models of the Hyundai Ioniq 5, the Nissan Leaf, and the Toyota Prius Prime have solar panel roofs. These models benefit from greater battery savings. The energy generated from their solar panels can power features like the car’s air conditioning and radio.

VR drivers ed

In-car virtual reality (VR) driver’s ed technology would simulate a virtual environment for the driver to practice while the car is stationary. It would help drivers practice both standard safety procedures and emergency maneuvers.

“VR driver’s ed is a great concept and can be really helpful to anyone who either wants to learn how to drive or even be able to drive better than what they’re doing,” says North. “This can only help the learner build self-esteem as well as their confidence in their ability to drive.”

This is particularly helpful for young drivers and students learning how to drive. It prepares new drivers for emergency situations, protecting not only the people in the car but other drivers as well.

Additionally, drivers benefit financially from a virtual reality driver’s ed teacher.

Smart driving companion

The advanced smart driving companion provides real-time coaching, analyzes driving conditions, and offers safety advice to the driver based on the vehicle’s environment and driver behavior. The AI companion would improve driver safety by acting as an extra set of eyes and ears for the driver, reducing the risk of surprises that lead to accidents.

For example, the smart companion would be able to analyze the surrounding vehicles to determine if they’re driving safely. The companion might notice another motorist driving erratically or looking at their phone and warn the driver of the potential danger.

“The smart driving companion is a splendid feature to see,” North says. “This is where people can benefit from AI because this is where we all can learn what we could’ve done in any driving circumstance. Having someone there to catch our mistakes or even coach the learner/driver on what happened will teach valuable lessons.”

This technology is similar to the aforementioned mindful co-pilot technology, which already exists in some forms, most prominently through Smart Eye’s DMS, unveiled earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show. The system analyzes the driver’s behavior and where they’re looking to assess risk and provide warnings if necessary.

A silver utility-style SUV with angular body panels and five-door access. The vehicle lacks visible door handles. On the roof, two renewable power-generating panels hover above, supported by a central column, resembling small wings. The front of the vehicle features light blue strobe headlights and a light blue hue along the bottom of the side of the car. The large concave silver alloy tires are a minimum of 24″. Inside, standard seating arrangements include two seats in the front and two in the back. Futuristic safety features include aerodynamic body panels that adjust shape for stability, a mindful co-pilot system monitoring driver state, electric propulsion management, virtual reality driver’s ed, and a smart driving companion AI for real-time coaching. This concept car embodies future automotive technology focused on enhancing driver safety and efficiency.

The cost of safety in the future

The cost of vehicle safety in the future is difficult to predict. In 2024, the average cost of a new car is $47,401, according to Kelley Blue Book. The price of new vehicles will likely continue to increase in the long term.

The autonomous driving industry is set to generate $300 billion to $400 billion in revenue by 2035, with a projected 37% of new passenger cars containing advanced autonomous driver technology by 2030, according to a McKinsey report from 2023.

At first, you can expect vehicles with these autonomous safety features to cost more. As these features become more commonplace, affordability will likely follow.

For instance, backup cameras and blindspot monitoring have become standard safety features across all vehicles, no matter their price point.

While the vehicles of the future may still carry a slightly higher price tag than vehicles today, their increased safety might make it worth the cost. These safety benefits have real potential to reduce risk on the road, which could be reflected in decreased auto insurance premiums. The safety features described could become as standard and expected as seat belts, paving the way to a safer future on the road for all drivers.

The future of auto insurance

Auto insurers primarily factor in a driver’s risk of getting into an accident, the likelihood of having to pay for the claims arising from that accident, and the cost of repairing the vehicles involved in the accident.

As more innovative safety features are incorporated into auto manufacturing, auto insurers will have to weigh the risk of having to pay higher repair and replacement costs against the benefit of potentially lower accident rates as a result of safety innovations.

“It’s possible that if certain autonomous safety features decrease the risk of accidents, drivers of these vehicles could see lower insurance premiums compared to similar vehicles that lack these features,” said Betsy Stella, vice president of carrier management and operations at Insurify.

The challenge insurers face is gathering the data that either verifies or refutes the added safety value of these features and determining how well they mitigate risk. Insurance companies will need to incorporate insights from that data into their rating models.

If the features offer substantial risk mitigation, then drivers should see comparatively lower insurance costs for these vehicles. However, if insurers don’t see a significant benefit, drivers may end up with higher rates for these vehicles since they’ll cost more to repair but be just as likely to be in an accident.

Tesla is one brand that demonstrates how including more technology increases insurance rates when there is no hard evidence of additional risk mitigation. The average Tesla costs 33% more to insure compared to other cars on the market, according to Insurify’s data.

Whether a car has autonomous safety features or not, car insurance premiums have been rising in the past few years. Drivers trying to reduce their rates should practice safe driving, improve their credit, and compare car insurance quotes.

Methodology

To create the “safest car of the future,” we blended AI-driven ideation with in-depth research. We asked GPT-4 to conceptualize a vehicle that incorporates advanced safety features and utilizes research on future manufacturing and safety innovation. We provided GPT-4 with research from authoritative sources, including Forbes and Interesting Engineering, to steer the concept vehicle toward the pinnacle of safety.

We then input all the safety features GPT-4 identified into DALL-E, which conceptualized the vehicle. To ensure the designs are feasible, we conducted thorough desk research into current trends and speculative technological advancements. This process was a case study on the collaboration between human foresight and AI’s computational insights to set new safety standards in the future.

Danny Smith
Danny Smith

Danny is a Brooklyn-based writer with a producer’s license for property and casualty insurance. A former editor at Insurify, he specializes in auto, home, and pet insurance. He works to translate his insurance expertise into digestible, easy-to-understand content for drivers, homeowners, and pet owners alike.

Tanveen Vohra
Edited byTanveen VohraManager of Content and Communications
Tanveen Vohra
Tanveen VohraManager of Content and Communications
  • Property and casualty insurance specialist

  • 4+ years creating insurance content

Tanveen manages Insurify's data insights, annual home and auto insurance reports, and media communications. She’s regularly featured in media interviews on insurance topics.

Featured in

media logomedia logomedia logomedia logo