#NewsBytesExplainer: What are the different levels of autonomous driving?
Autonomous driving basically refers to self-driving vehicles that move without any intervention from a human driver. In 2014, the Society of Automotive Engineers had published the J3016 standard to define the various development levels a vehicle has to pass through to become fully autonomous. These levels start from Level 0 (no automation) and go up to Level 5 (full vehicle autonomy).
Starting from Level 0, this stage of automation requires the driver to completely take control of the vehicle while offering safety features such as blind-spot monitoring and collision warnings along with automatic emergency braking. Under Level 1, the driver assistance system controls the car in specific situations. For example, adaptive cruise control regulating acceleration and braking mostly on highways.
The Level 2 of autonomous driving is termed as Partial Automation and includes both lateral and longitudinal control by pairing the steering wheel with acceleration and braking. Level 3 is the Conditional Automation where a driver can withdraw from driving in specific situations and do other tasks. However, they should be ready to take charge whenever the vehicle sends an alert.
Although the driver is a partial necessity in level 3, their attention should not be distracted. In cases of recurring traffic jams, the Traffic Jam Pilot feature alerts the driver to regain the control when the vehicle passes through the traffic.
The highest two levels are High Automation (4) and Full Automation (5) wherein the vehicle takes full control of all driving functions. However, in Level 4, it works on regular routes and conditions defined within its Operation Design Domain. In Level 5, no driver is required at all and "smart cabins" are present for issuing voice commands.
The high-tech autonomous driving technology is mostly added in premium cars by luxury carmakers. Brands such as Honda, Mercedes, Tesla, and Hyundai have armed some of their vehicles with up to Level 3 autonomy.