Levels of autonomous driving & Why you should know them?
In the 21st century, autonomous driving has become real. It’s no more a fancy tech in a sci-fi movie. We are now already using a few automation technologies in our cars. Take an example of adaptive cruise control. It’s a semi-automatic system. We are slowly transitioning towards more and more automation in driving. So, it’s time to understand different levels of autonomous driving.
First of all, driving automation has different levels. We will discuss each level in detail. The classification ensures an easy understanding of the concept. In addition, from a manufacturer’s point of view, it’s an excellent guideline for the transition to driving autonomously. Autonomous driving has five different levels. We will understand them one by one.
Autonomous driving in brief
We hear a lot about driving automation. But what precisely autonomous driving means remains a question. Its use for everyone is another question. We will briefly explain it here. The vehicle needs three different fundamental skills to drive autonomously. First of all, the car needs to understand the surrounding. It should also be able to sense the surrounding. Generally, various sensors, cameras, and radars help vehicles understand its surrounding.
In addition, the second skill is thinking. The onboard computer/control unit performs this task by analyzing data coming from sensors. Then, the computer analyzes the data and decides the driving strategy going ahead. just like our brain, it also sends commands to different components of the vehicle. Furthermore, vehicles need to act according to driving strategy by using different vehicular systems such as brakes, steering, etc. So, the control unit coordinates all three skills together and drives the vehicle autonomously, making our life easier.
Level 0 means no automation in driving. The driver entirely controls the vehicle manually. However, the vehicle has supporting systems like lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, and ESP (Electronic Stability Program). These supportive systems don’t drive the vehicle. However, these systems are only active in certain driving situations. Hence, these technologies, just by themselves, do not amount to autonomous driving.
Level 1 Driver Assistance
Level 1 in autonomous driving involves the help of assistance systems in specific scenarios. The computer helps explicitly during acceleration, braking, and steering the vehicle. The computer relieves and supports the driver. So, the system involves longitudinal and lateral control on the vehicles.
Furthermore, at this level, the driver must stay alert and must intervene to make corrections. So, the driver must be ready to take over controls if something goes wrong. Therefore, the monitoring of the system by the driver is crucial at this level. A great example of this level of autonomy is adaptive cruise control.
Level 2 Partial Driving Automation
In Level 2, automation of the vehicle takes longitudinal and lateral control in specific cases. In heavy traffic, drivers can do relax driving with Level 2 autonomy. The partial driving systems can set vehicles in motion. The system can brake accelerate and steer independently to some extent.
Furthermore, the system combines lane centering assist, adaptive cruise control, and stop-and-go functions. The automatic lane change function also comes under Level 2 autonomy. When the driver signals a lane change, the system automatically changes the lane when it’s safe.
The scope of Level 2 autonomy also plays an essential role in parking. The system can record recurring parking maneuvers and the system then automatically does parking maneuvers with the touch of a button. In this level of autonomy, the driver must keep monitoring the situation and system. The driver must take control if the need for any need for correction arises.
Level 3 Conditional Driving Automation
In Level 3 autonomous driving, the system controls the driving task in specific driving conditions. In this stage, the redundancy of all the systems is critical. All the systems such as steering, braking, electronics, and electrical systems have full redundancy. So, if any of the system fails, the other systems take over the controls automatically. The computer is also able to stop vehicles safely in critical situations. Even at Level 3, the driver must be vigilant and able to take over controls when requested.
Level 4 High Driving Automation
High driving automation involves the complete involvement of the system in driving. The system is solely responsible for all maneuvers. The system operates independently without any manual interventions. At this level, even with critical situations, the responsibility of driving remains with the onboard computer system.
In addition, the system can halt completely in critical situations. It also has enough intelligence to handle different tricky situations and maneuvers. This level is a significant milestone towards autonomous driving. Furthermore, the Leading global technology company Bosch has this technology. The Bosch automated valet parking is the first officially approved Level 4 parking system.
Level 5 full Driving Autoamtion
The Level 5 automation includes independent driving by the computer. So, the system has all the controls for driving entirely on its own. It is also capable of performing different tasks independently. This level of autonomy removes the need for the driver. The vehicles with Level 5 autonomy will only have passengers.
Furthermore, the vehicle can maneuver through city traffic, highways, the countryside, and in different weather conditions. If any error arises out of the blue, system takes all the responsibility. The system is also capable of handling the vehicle to a safe position if any such situation arises.
In conclusion, we are currently at Level 4 autonomy, and within no time, we will be going to Level 5. Level 5 will make transportation very easy and hassle-free. Therefore, we are very sure Level 5 will become a reality very soon.
Image Courtesy: Tesla
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