Disrupted Car Insurance – the computer in your car feeding back data to Google?

Armed with a broad spectrum of driving style information Google can heavily disrupt car insurance companies

iDisrupted Commentary

We’ve discussed the impending disruption to the insurance business before at iDisrupted and it would be fair to say that Google is extremely interested in the whole automotive sector – everything from driverless cars to car insurance comparison (somewhat controversially according to various EU sources). The Google went and launched Android Auto – essentially a tweaked version of Android focus around automotive.

Disrupted Car InsuranceIt turns out that Android Auto is going to be collecting a large spectrum of data from cars where the O/S is embedded. To quote a Motor Trend piece on the forthcoming Porsche 911 Turbo Android Auto wants to collect: “There’s no technological reason the 991/2 doesn’t have Android Auto playing through its massively upgraded PCM system. Why doesn’t it have it? As part of the agreement an automaker would have to enter with Google, Porsche said certain pieces of data must be collected and transmitted back to Mountain View, California. Stuff like vehicle speed, throttle position, coolant and oil temp, engine revs—basically Google wants a complete OBD2 dump whenever someone activates Android Auto. Not kosher, says Porsche. Obviously, this is “off the record,” but Porsche feels info like that is the secret sauce that makes its cars special. Moreover, giving such data to a multibillion-dollar corporation that’s actively building a car, well, that ain’t good, either. Apple, by way of stark contrast, only wants to know if the car is moving while Apple Play is in use. It makes you wonder why other OEMs have agreed to Google’s terms, no? That’s 35-plus companies, including Volkswagen and Audi.

Google, for its part, disputes some of our source’s assertions. Liz Markman, a Google spokesperson for Android Auto, said in a statement that Google does not collect some of the data listed by Porsche, such as throttle position and coolant temp. She declined to provide a full list of what data is collected, but emphasized that Android Auto users must opt in to share any information upon their first connection of their phone to a car. She said some of that data is used for safety (restricting typing and allowing only voice input when the car is not in “park,” for example) and some is to used to optimize the app’s user experience.”

Note that Porsche have now adopted Apple’s simple car play into the new 911 Turbo which only feeds back music track play data.

Then there was a recent article from the Guardian about what data is being collected by Google from the car O/S. Of course information about throttle position, speed, revs, distance etc wouldn’t be at all useful to Google creating a personalised database of driving style and intent in order to disrupt the car insurance business. So you can conclude they are probably not going to collect that sort of information. Which does lead one to wonder why Google are providing a car focused O/S. . .