Driverless cars, will it ever happen?
Driverless cars have had a bad press over recent months as test cars have crashed into police cars and caused accidents in America. But manufacturers are not giving up and even in today’s new car market, higher levels of autonomous driving are already being included in various makes and models to assist with steering, braking and accelerating, and driving.
So, what are the levels of autonomous driving and how far has technology already advanced? The Society of Automotive Engineers (https://www.sae.org/), state there are 6 levels of autonomous cars which are as follows:
This is the standard car that you and I probably drive right now. It has no automation within its system and is fully controlled by the driver.
This level is where a car has built-in features that can assist the driver with various operating functions. The car may have a feature for instance called ‘lane-keep assist’ or ‘lane departure warning’ where the car will give a warning if the car moves out of its lane without the driver using indicators. This in-built feature was first devised to detect if drivers fall asleep at the wheel. Nowadays the car will correct itself and stay in the lane. Adaptive cruise control and parking assistance technology also fall into this level. Many new cars have various features that would class as level 1 autonomous driving.
Level 2 becomes a little more interesting as this is where the car has an advanced driver assistance system that will, under certain weather conditions and designated roads, control steering, braking and accelerating. Even though this level encourages the driver to be less hands on, the driver must at all times stay alert and ready to take control of the car if an emergency situation happens. The driver’s hands must remain on the steering wheel. Read this blog for more information on what comprises a level 2 vehicle – https://blogs.nvidia.com/blog/2019/02/06/what-is-level-2-automated-driving/
At level 3 the car is fully capable of controlling all aspects of driving in certain situations. The driver does not pay their full attention to the operating of the car, but they must take control of the car in an emergency. In 2020 Mercedes are due to release a revamped S-Class sedan, which will be a level 3 vehicle, you can find out more about the functionality by contacting your local Mercedes dealership but be aware that due to UK legislation level 3 vehicles are facing delays of being driven in the UK.
This is similar to level 3 but the main difference is that the driver can actually fall asleep if they so wished. The car will have an in-built system that will pull itself off of the road should an emergency situation occur so that the driver can then take back control.
This is the final step and the end game all manufacturers are aiming for. The driver is no longer a driver but becomes a passenger and has no input into the operating of the vehicle at all.