5 Different Automation Levels In a Self Driving Car
Posted By : Oodles Technologies | 13-Jan-2017
You might not be knowing that autonomous or self-driving cars are already getting tested on the roads of California, Nevada and Pennsylvania at present. The big auto companies are testing them under the expert guidance of top automobile engineers and human drivers. Here you must not forget that not all the self-driving cars are the same and the level of automation is different with a different car model and type. While engineers are looking to build fully autonomous cars one day, there is already some level of automation and intelligence incorporated with these vehicles which are right now being tested and will be soon available to general public in a very short time from now. Apparently, it seems that with such huge advancements in Artificial Intelligence, the term ‘driving’ would become a thing of the past in the near future.
Tesla and many other automakers have already introduced “Level 1” and “Level 2” semi-autonomous features in their vehicles which are at present in the making and testing phase. And, this is bringing a hope for “Fully Autonomous (level 4 and 5) Cars” to be launched soon.
The various features that are already available with these level 1 and level 2 cars include “self-parking”, “Self-stop to avoid collision”, operating in adaptive cruise control mode, accelerating and slowing down according to the pace of the traffic around, and maintaining the centre position within a road lane. And, these are just a few automated features that could roll out any time.
Now Lets Understand The Levels of Automation
Level 0 - Zero Automation - Normal Driving with Usual Features
Under this level, a human driver is always required at all times while the car is being driven.
Driver solely controls the car :
Eyes should always be on the road at all times.
Both the hands of the driver should be on the steering wheel.
Driver’s foot should be on the acceleration pedal/brake.
Level 1 - Driver Assistance Required - Function-Specific
There is a layer of safety and comfort added in this level of automation.
Car can make the driver sense the road conditions, potential obstructions and environment.
Lane keeping(steering) and speed control via cruise control feature. Car can make itself to stop for avoiding collisions too under certain conditions.
Basically, in this level of automation, vehicle assists the driver to control and operate the car efficiently.
Level 2 - Partial Automation
You would find the key automation features a bit more advanced but still the driver is in control of the car. In this level, at least two tasks get performed simultaneously by the car to make driver feel relaxed and comfortable. For e.g., in adaptive cruise control mode, drivers are free to remove their hands from the steering and can also relax their feet as there is no need to keep your foot on the acceleration pedal. One can leave the car to drive itself by setting up a pre-defined speed and leaving the car on its own in terms of lane keeping and maintaining a safe distance from the other vehicles on the road. Further, automated lane changing and overtake features have also been introduced under "level 2". Self-parking too is available in the perpendicular or parallel spaces after the driver has placed the car into the correct position.
Level 3 - Conditional Automation or Limited Self Driving
Here, the car itself becomes a Co-Pilot with you. In this level too, a human driver is always involved with the functioning of the vehicle but an added environmental monitoring awareness comes to play under this level of automation. The vehicle will now be able to manage most of the safety-critical driving functions in certain known environmental conditions on the highways and in the traffic.
Driver is in partial control of the vehicle.
Eyes can go off the road but driver still needs to be observant.
Hands can go off the wheel in certain scenarios but at the ready.
Foot can also go off from the acceleration/brake pedal in specific driving conditions but at the ready.
Level 4 - High Automation Delivered At Your Service
Here, all safety-critical driving functions would be performed by the car itself while monitoring environments/conditions in defined cases. This can be called full self-driving automation according to NHTSA. In this advanced level of automation, drivers or humans are not actually required as pilots as vehicles only requires inputs on destination with navigation details included. According to SAE, self driving is possible with this level of automation in most of the road conditions and environments without any need for humans to intervene at all between the destination points. But, you can still find a functional driver cockpit in place with controls like steering wheel, brake/acceleration paddle etc.
Driver becomes a passenger but can still assume control anytime, if needed.
Eyes can go off road.
Hands off the wheel is also not a problem at all.
Even the foot is not required to be controlling the acceleration pedal/brake pedal and are allowed to go off from any of the drive control pedals.
Level 5 - Full Autonomous Mode
Here, there is no need of a driver at all. If NHTSA are to be believed, there is no “Level 5”. But, SAE outlines “5” as a fully automated driving in all road and environmental conditions without the need of a human as a driver or a passenger. Further, these vehicle’s look would be totally different from the conventional cars with no driving equipments incorporated. They will be sporting a totally different and new shapes as per the human comfort and productivity requirements. They might resemble offices and lounges in their shapes and design.
Artificial Intelligence, with this rate of advancement seems to be controlling our lives in the near future by getting itself incorporated to every single walk of life and also to all the electronic devices available on the planet.