Self-driving or autonomous cars have gone from science fiction in the past to a reality in our future. A lot of people think of the technology as being all or nothing. Either the car is a self-driving vehicle or not. However, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has broken autonomous vehicles down into these five levels according to their capability:
- Level 0 is no automation involved. The driver is responsible for everything.
- Level 1 is driver assistance. The car helps with the acceleration. It also assists with brake or steering.
- Level 2 is partial assistance. The car assists with acceleration. Braking and steering.
- Level 3 is conditional automation. The car assists with for a short period of time. The driver can turn their attention away from the road momentarily.
- Level 4 is high automation. It requires no attention from the driver unless desired.
- Level 5 is full automation.
Although it may be awhile before Level 5 self-driving or autonomous cars are prevalent on America’s highways, some of the features are currently available and used in many vehicles on the road today. Cruise control, blind spot detection, parking assistance, forward collision warning systems, and steering assistance are all features that lead us down the automation road to self-driving. For the present however, let’s all keep our on the road and pay attention while driving always.