Self-driving cars seem like a promise that's almost here and is not the same for years. These statements are all true because there are different levels of autonomy. That means these stages.
The NHTSA has created the steps for clarity
If you have the impression that cars can drive themselves and cars can not drive themselves, you've heard it essentially in both directions. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines six levels of autonomy. They issued this guide to both advance and standardize autonomous vehicle testing.
Self-driving cars could potentially save many lives but have no common goal and agreed rules that can be tested to eliminate potential gains. Just as it's easier to know what to expect when you eventually buy a router that complies with the Wi-Fi 6 standard, it's easier to know what to expect when you arrive one day Buy a car that meets a self-drive level.
The NHTSA subdivides self-propelled vehicles into six categories, starting at level 0.
Level 0: No automation
A level 0 car has no self-propelled capabilities at all. Man does all the driving at all times. Basically, a level 0 car is not self-propelled at all. Model T were Level 0 vehicles, if you were born in the 80s, this was probably your first car. Realistically, most vehicles were level 0 until recently.
Most used vehicles in the market today are still at level 0. From your 2007 Ford Focus to your Toyota Prius 2010.
Level 1: Driver Assistance
A Level 1 vehicle can help with either steering or braking, but not both. The Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) falls into this category because it only brakes (to keep a certain distance from the vehicle in front of you), but does not steer.
Not a few cars already have this technology. The 2011 Jeep Cherokee had ACC, Chevrolet introduced several models in 2015, and Ford introduced the first pickup truck (an F150) just a few years ago.
Level 2: Partial Automation
A Level 2 vehicle can help both steering and braking at the same time. They still require the full attention of the driver, and you must be ready to take control at all times. If you combine the adaptive cruise control from our explanation of Level 1 cars with lane center (which steers your car to the middle of the lane), then you've met the definition of Level 2.
GM's Super Cruise is an excellent example of this. Level 2. With a Super Cruise-capable car, you can take your hands off the wheel. Cameras, however, are aimed at your eyes. If you find you are not watching the road, the system will be disabled. Tesla's autopilot feature (see Models S, X, and 3 (if you're paying for the add-on)) is currently in the Tier 2 category.
Tier 3: Conditional Automation
You can take your eyes off the road at level 3. A driver must still be in the car, but he is not expected to know everything at all times, as is the case with Tier 2 and Tier 1 automation However, you may need to take over driving at a certain time, which causes some difficulty, and if the problem is an imminent wreck that the car can not handle, the driver may not have enough Time to fully assess the situation.
Audi was planning to release the A8 with a feature called the Traffic Jam Pilot, but canceled these plans in the US due to the complicated regulatory environment across the country. As the name implies, Audi limited the function to slow speeds (preferably stop-and-go traffic, but up to 40 km / h) and only at locations where a physical barrier separated oncoming traffic.
Level 4: High Automation
A Level 4 capable vehicle can drive anything, but only under certain circumstances. Unlike Stage 3, this is not required. If all conditions are right, it's over, but when it's raining or snowing, the vehicle may not allow you to drive.
Honda has announced that it will be working on a Tier 4 vehicle by 2026. Lyft, Uber, Google and many more have been working on Tier 4 vehicles for quite some time, but the reality is that all their cars need security drivers, and they're testing something between Level 2 and 3. One exception is Waymo in the frame Early Access program under Tier 4 conditions. When driving in a Waymo vehicle, there is no safety driver. However, they limit the conditions under which the vehicles may drive in part through tests in Arizona, taking advantage of the typically dry weather as an advantage.
Level 5: Full Automation
Full automation is the big dream goal that does not require a human driver. You could only be a passenger and not drive at all. If level 0 is the vehicle you are driving, level 5 is the vehicle that drives you. The first level 5 vehicle is already underway. But you will not see it when you carry people along – instead they carry food.
Nuro has partnered with Krogers to test small cars that carry food at a short distance. You leave the store and come to your house. You take out your food. It drives away.
No one can handle a car, and there is not even a steering wheel. Limiting the distance and speed at which the vehicle drives reduces the variables to achieve full autonomy more quickly. But cars that move themselves at high speed are far away.
Technology is not the only complication
Technology is not the only problem automotive manufacturers face in the future. The laws need to be fully unified, and we need to find answers to some important questions. For example, if a completely autonomous vehicle hits another car, who is to blame? The passenger who did not drive The manufacturer for faulty code? Which insurance will pay for the damage?
Automakers also need to persuade people to give up control and trust in a computer that controls the very sensitive way to navigate our streets, and at the moment most Americans lack that confidence.
It is likely that completely autonomous vehicles are many years away, and even then they are relegated to luxury cars. It will take even longer for the technology to be tracked by the daily buyer. Lyft, Uber, Waymo and others work on self-driving taxis, and in some places you can travel. For some, this might even replace the need to own a car because you could call a car to come to you via an app if you need one.
Who knows? One day, our children or grandchildren could look back on us with shock when they look at our dangerous driving habits, which until then had been outdated by computers.