In 2014, SAE International (Society of Automotive Engineers) published the concept of autonomy levels for automated driving systems, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has already adopted. Here is a primer on the six degrees of autonomy:
Level 0 (No Automation): The human driver controls all of the driving actions, including acceleration, braking, throttle, and steering.
|Image source: news.moov.com.ng|
Level 1 (Driver Assistance): Recent car models already have this kind of automation in forms of adaptive cruise control and park assist. The human driver can have the computer take control of either the steering or acceleration and braking, but never both.
Level 2 (Partial Automation): A level-two automated car can take over both the pedals and the wheels, given certain conditions. The human driver must still keep his eyes on the road and regain control of the vehicle at any time.
Level 3 (Conditional Automation): This degree of automation is similar to the previous one, however, the human driver does not have to monitor the situation that much. The vehicle is capable of deciding on its own whenever dynamic incidents occur on the road, but the human driver serves as the fallback system. Because this autonomy level can cause potential issues on liability, car manufacturers would rather skip this level.
Level 4 (High Automation): A true self-driving car, the vehicle can accomplish all driving tasks on its own. A steering wheel, pedals, and throttle are still installed, though, to allow the human driver to take control if he prefers to.
|Image source: martechtoday.com|
Level 5 (Full Automation): Cars of this degree of autonomy cannot be driven by a human because there are no steering wheels and pedals.