Have you ever dreamed of the day where your car could drive for itself freeing you to do other things, such as reading, catching up on emails, watching a movie, or sleeping rather than focus on the road while in the car? Automotive manufacturers and transportation technology vendors are rapidly progressing us to that goal.
Indeed, we discuss that “Autonomous Everything” is one of the four key parts of our AI-Enabled Vision of the Future. The power of AI and Machine Learning combined with extremely detailed city and road mapping, lane-keeping, collision avoidance, and self-parking is leading to automobiles and trucks that can take us to our destinations without us having to keep our feet on the pedals or hands on the steering wheel.
However, as we have seen recently, a number of incidents and accidents have called into question how ready this technology is for general use. Furthermore, the transportation industry continues to innovate at a lightning pace, but not all innovation is happening at the same level. In order to understand the end vision of a future filled with autonomous vehicles of all sorts, we need to understand where the industry currently stands and where it is heading.
Levels of Autonomous Capabilities for Vehicles
The Society of Automotive Engineers classifies autonomous vehicle technology capabilities into six levels. We have summarized this below but be sure to check out their website for full details on these levels:
Level 0: At this level, there are no autonomous features in this car. The driver is responsible for all operating tasks such as driving, steering, accelerating, and basically everything needed to drive a car. Pretty much all the cars and trucks currently on the road today are at Level 0 autonomy.
Level 1: The vehicle is capable of only doing one autonomous task at a time such as lane-keeping, adaptive cruise control, or automated braking, but not any two or more of these combined. The driver still needs to be fully engaged behind the wheel and do most of the work driving the vehicle. These autonomous capabilities are mostly safety-oriented to handle situations preemptively on behalf of the driver. Many newer vehicles have Level 1 capabilities as described.
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