What are the five levels of self-driving for SAE?

According to PC Magazine, autonomous vehicles are “computer-controlled cars that drive themselves.” In other words, drivers are never required to take control; instead, sensors and software control, navigate, and operate the car. According to ABI Research, there will be around 8 million autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles on the road by 2025. But before they can touch the road, self-driving vehicles must first graduate through six layers of driver aid technology.

The word “autonomous” may not be the ideal phrase for self-driving capabilities, as it implies that the vehicle is “self-aware” and able to make decisions on its own. Consider it as if you asked your automobile to transport you to work, but it decided that you would be better off at the beach. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) uses the term “automatic” instead, which indicates that the vehicle must follow the driver’s or passenger’s commands, even if they are simple. Regardless of the criteria, self-driving vehicles are categorized by autonomy levels ranging from 0 (I’m simply a regular car) to 5 (I don’t require you to drive) The summary is as follows:

SAE Level 0: No automation

Even if equipped with warning and intervention systems, such as obstacle avoidance and emergency braking systems, the driver is in complete control of the vehicle at all times. There are no extra features, simply a standard cruise control to aid in long-distance driving and reduce the chance of a speeding penalty due to a heavy foot. These enhanced driver safety technologies are omitted from the automated categorical system since they do not conduct part or all of the DDT (Dynamic Driving Task) on a sustained basis; rather, they intervene briefly in potentially hazardous situations.

SAE Level 1: Driver assistance

Level 1 autonomy and safety is the most basic level, in which a single part of the driving process is taken over using data from sensors and cameras, but the driver is still in command. Here, adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist technology are available to combat driver weariness. Adaptive cruise control will maintain a safe distance between you and the car in front of you by applying automated braking when traffic slows and resuming speed when traffic clears. Lane maintain assist may also be included and will aid steer the car back into its lane if it begins to swerve out of it. Mercedes-Benz developed these technology in the late 1990s with its radar-managed cruise control, while Honda introduced lane-keep assist on the 2008 Legend. These were the initial steps towards the creation of an autonomous car.

SAE Level 2: Partial automation

At this level, things get more engaging. Even though the driver must have their hands on the wheel and be prepared to take control at any time, level 2 automation can aid with basic duties. The driver must still execute tactical moves, such as responding to traffic signals, changing lanes, and scanning for potential dangers. Typically, vehicles at this category are equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) that can assume control of steering, acceleration, and braking in certain situations. These systems are advantageous in stop-and-go traffic situations because they maintain a safe space between you and the vehicle in front of you while also assisting with steering by centering the vehicle within the lane. Examples of Level 2 autonomous capabilities include Tesla Autopilot, Volvo Pilot Assist, and Audi Traffic Jam Assist.

SAE Level 3: Conditional automation

The transition from Level 2 to Level 3 is significant from a technological position yet subtle, if not trivial, from a human standpoint. The SAE refers to Level 3 as “conditional automation,” which is a mode that manages all aspects of driving but requires the driver to be prepared to intervene if requested. Autonomous vehicles at this level are capable of self-driving, but only under perfect conditions and with restrictions, such as limited-access divided motorways at specific speeds. In the event of less-than-ideal driving conditions, a human driver must assume control. Some vehicles at this level have “environmental detection” skills and can make autonomous judgments, such as passing a slower-moving vehicle by accelerating. Audi’s A8 is a prime example and is capable of driving itself under certain conditions.

SAE Level 4: High automation

At Level 4, the vehicle’s autonomous driving system is completely capable of monitoring the driving environment and performing all driving operations for limited routes and conditions within the operational design domain of the vehicle (ODD). A steering wheel and pedals remain at this level, but no human input or supervision is required until specified criteria, such as road type or geographic location, poor weather, or other uncommon settings, are met. The driver may handle all driving duties on surface streets before becoming a passenger upon entering an interstate. If conditions, such as severe snowfall, need human assistance, the vehicle may warn the driver when it reaches its operational limits. If the driver does not reply, the system will automatically secure the car within preset safety boundaries, including coming to a complete stop.

SAE Level 5: Full automation

Level 5 vehicles are totally autonomous, hence no driver is required to undertake any driving activities. At this stage, autonomous cars are neither restricted by geofencing nor impacted by the weather, and they can transport people in a comfortable and efficient manner. From point A to point B, the only required is the destination. In reality, this category of cars may not include steering wheels or gas/brake pedals. Voice commands are used to control onboard equipment such as entertainment, air conditioning, and video calling.

Although the technology for completely autonomous vehicles exists today, they are still in development. Combined with present US legislation and legal issues, the widespread deployment of Level 5 cars will not occur for many years. Nevertheless, a 2016 report by IHS Markit predicts that 21 million autonomous vehicles will be in operation by 2035, around a decade from now.

Source: Fierce Electronics

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