Since the car's appearance, there has been talking of cars that will move on their own at some point. This goal seems more and more plausible today, but there are still steps to be taken until it is possible and safe. Do you understand the five levels of autonomous driving technology?
Driving a vehicle autonomously will change the way we travel: less congested traffic, lower travel costs, elimination of parking problems (lack of space, wasted time looking for a place, the need to have a driver's license are just a tiny part of the advantages that will make everyday travel faster, less stressful and much more accessible.
The autonomous driving mode will also reduce CO2 emissions, undoubtedly improving the quality of the air we breathe. However, fully autonomous vehicles will not become a reality overnight, but they are not as far as we would be tempted to believe.
But there is a time, a period over which even the most impatient promoters of autonomous vehicles will not be able to pass. Also, as was the case with the implementation of technologies for 100% electric cars and in the case of autonomous vehicles, a standardization and especially a staging of the introduction of new technologies on the market is very much needed.
The industry will always follow the trends.
Fundamentally, as the history of the automotive industry has shown us, it must meet two conditions for a new concept to be successful: it must be widely available and universally accepted.
We have had many examples over time, either of cars "born before their times" or ideas, which, although brilliant and plausible, did not pass, so to speak, the test of the market or of time.
But now, the industry can no longer afford to risk. And we see how a trend once started is followed by all car manufacturers in the field. Moreover, no one risks, on the one hand, staying out of a trend, deliberately delaying, but not staying out of it. On the other hand, everyone has to stick to certain development and implementation program.
Of course, it has been proven that making a 100% safe autonomous vehicle is not easy in practice. Prototypes have been built and tested for almost 20 years because although the idea is simple, it has proved much more complex in practice.
Driving is one of the most complicated daily activities of man. Just following the laws of the road is not enough for a car to drive autonomously as if driven by a human, because the human driver does many other things: maintains eye contact with other road users, reacts according to weather conditions, and in general, man makes a series of decisions almost impossible to codify in the form of rules.
We will not now deal with how moral, useful, cost-effective or safe a 100% autonomous car is. Or if we want it to become a reality, to use such a car, or if we have the strength to send a car without a driver to take us or take our child from school! We want to point out that, despite all the question marks that this technology raises, the almost impossible problems that occurred in this process - accidents, issues related to insurance (establishing guilt), etc. - things are moving forward.
In industry, everything is now converging towards a future autonomous movement of vehicles.
SAE International (Society of Automotive Engineers) has classified autonomous travel after five levels that specify how capable a vehicle is to operate alone and the degree of human intervention. This classification system is currently used as a reference point in any discussion of the degree of automation of vehicles.
Level 0 of autonomous driving is typical of any car. The driver handles all driving, steering, acceleration, and braking/stopping operations, and the vehicle has no movement control system. Virtually any car offers or has a zero level of autonomy.
The following are the five levels of autonomous driving technology.
Level 1: driver assistance.
The driver still has to manage most of the car's functions at this level, but with some help from autonomous systems. For example, one of these systems is the collision warning system when the vehicle is dangerously close to an obstacle. Another is the cruise control system for maintaining speed and distance control from another car.
Also, at Level 1, autonomous vehicles may have a parking assist system, which emits alert sounds to the driver when he approaches an obstacle. Level 1 is the most common in today's cars.
Level 2: partially automated.
Partial automation allows the driver to disengage some driving functions. For example, level 2 compliant vehicles have steering, acceleration, braking, and speed control systems. However, the driver must still have both hands on the steering wheel and be careful when driving so that he can take control at any time, if necessary.
Regarding steering, Level 2 assistance vehicles keep the car on the road (between lanes) while maintaining the correct distance from other vehicles. An example is the Pilot Assist or Driver Assist system packages, present at most manufacturers on higher equipment levels.
Level 3: conditional automation.
Conditional automation allows the driver to sit and the car to take care of travel. This level is also known as "eyes-off," the driver can focus on other activities, such as using a mobile phone. Most autonomous Level 3 cars require almost no human intervention when traveling at speeds below 60km / h.
At this level, cars can be considered truly autonomous, but only in ideal road conditions. There are not too many (probably none) level 3 vehicles that can run on the highway. Honda has published that it will introduce a Level 3 autonomous driving car this year. But at this level, we can also talk about automatic parking systems without the driver's intervention.
Level 4: high automation.
At Level 4, vehicles can turn, accelerate, and brake on their own. They can also monitor road conditions and react to obstacles, determining when to turn or change lanes. However, level 4 self-driving can only be activated under certain conditions.
Vehicles can negotiate more dynamic traffic conditions at this level, such as traffic jams or other major obstacles. The best Level 4 autonomous vehicle program is the project initiated by Google and GM in the USA.
Level 5: fully autonomous vehicle.
At Level 5 self-driving, driver intervention is no longer required. Instead, vehicles can turn, accelerate or brake on their own and can also manage traffic conditions. In particular, the driver can relax without having to monitor the car's functions.
Vehicles at this level are controlled with the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and operate based on information collected in real-time from various sensors, GPS, navigation systems, etc. As a result, almost 4TB of data per hour is processed in an autonomous vehicle.
However, level 5 remains a kind of "Holy Grail" of the industry.
So far, companies such as Waymo (Google / GM), Tesla, Apple, Mercedes, VW, Audi, and others have tested cars with a level 5 autonomy. In the US, areas have even been designated, even public roads where these test activities are allowed. But there are still no Level 5 vehicles available for sale or part of an urban transport fleet. The so-called robot taxi. Tesla has announced a system called "Dojo" for this year which will be a bridge between 4 and 5.
In some cases, Level 5 autonomous driving technology is allowed in strictly limited areas or procedures, either as an area or as a speed of movement: airports (some services) and car parks (the automatic remote parking system is a Level 5 system).
However, offering cars with real Level 5 autonomous driving in open areas and cities is much more challenging to achieve due to the unpredictability of local specificity, weather, traffic, or people's reactions, among many others.