We have all come across the significant changes happening with regards to automation in our day to day lives. But what does that mean to a specific uprising segment called The Autonomous Cars and the relative levels of autonomity that is associated with it?
The levels of autonomy are a progression of self-driving features that engineering experts SAE International have outlined. These levels range from no self-driving features at all through fully-autonomous driving. They are as follows:
Level 0: No automation. This includes cars equipped with regular cruise control. The ability to maintain a speed that the driver sets is not autonomous.
Level 1: Driver assistance required. Adaptive cruise control falls into this category. At Level 1 the driver still needs to maintain full situational awareness and control of the vehicle.
Level 2: Partial automation options available. Tesla Autopilot, Volvo Pilot Assist, Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot, Cadillac Super Cruise—these are all Level 2 systems. They can only drive themselves at certain times under certain conditions. The driver must pay attention to driving conditions at all times and take over immediately if the conditions exceed the system’s limitations, of which there are many.
Level 3: Conditional Automation. Audi claims that the new A8 is the first production car to achieve Level 3 autonomy. The car, rather than the driver, takes over actively monitoring the environment when the system is engaged. Although human drivers must be prepared to respond to a “request to intervene.”
Level 4: High automation. Self-driving cars will be able to handle most “dynamic driving tasks,” to use SAE International’s terminology. In other words, a Level 4 car can handle most normal driving tasks on its own, but will still require driver intervention from time to time. Level 4 cars will generally do the driving for you, but will still have a steering wheel and pedals for a human driver to take over when needed.
Level 5: Full automation. Humans are nothing but cargo that tell the car where to take them. The car can drive itself anytime, anywhere, under any conditions. Any human intervention in the driving at all is not Level 5.