The six levels of vehicle automation | Rosenthal, Levy, Simon & Sosa

The six levels of vehicle automation

As residents in Florida continue to read and hear about the development of autonomous cars, they may understandably have a lot of questions. This is understandable as the technology is advancing rapidly. Learning about the technologies involved in creating a self-driving car can help take some of the mystery out of things and make people feel more comfortable with these emerging vehicles.

One fact that should be highlighted is that there is not just one type of autonomous vehicle. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates there are six distinct levels of automation identified in vehicles. The goal of increasing autonomous operation is to save lives. More than 37,000 people died in vehicle accidents in the U.S. in 2017 alone. Whether they realize it or not, many drivers have interacted with some level of automation in a vehicle already today.

Car and Driver Magazine notes that a fully autonomous vehicle is a level 5 car noted as having full automation. It can drive in any environment with no involvement by a human driver at all. A level 0 vehicle has no automation and requires a human for 100% of actions and maneuvers in all situations. Level 1 vehicles include safety features like adaptive cruise control which are rapidly becoming standard on many new vehicles today.

Level 2 vehicles have partial automation and can speed up, slow or brake, or even steer at times on their own. A level 3 vehicle features conditional automation akin to that of the Tesla Autopilot mode. Level 4 vehicles are able to drive without a human but only in select circumstances.

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