With hybrid and electric technology already moving in leaps and bound and autonomous driving gaining a lot of popularity, the spotlight has now shifted towards bringing the two together. Brands have been spending a lot of their time and money in perfecting autonomous driving technology before they can get it to mass production because of the obvious perils.
Now while we know quite a bit about electric and hybrid technology, the latter is still comparatively new to most of us. So hereâ€™s a quick but detailed look at everything you need to know about autonomous driving.
What are autonomous cars?
This oneâ€™s a no-brainer, right? Theyâ€™re cars which can drive from Point A to Point B with no inputs from the driver. Well, thereâ€™s actually a bit more to it than that. There are fiveÂ different levels of autonomous cars, according to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).
Level 0, no automation:
The name says it all â€“ thereâ€™s no automation and the driver does all the work. Itâ€™s basically what most of us have been living with all these years.
Level 1, driver assistance:
In this category, the driver still does most of the work while some functions like steering or acceleration/deceleration are controlled by the car. The driver-assistance systems like the basic cruise control as well as the more advanced collision avoidance and pedestrian detection systems in high-end cars like Volvo and Mercedes-Benz are perfect examples of Level 1 autonomy.
Level 2, partial automation:
Hereâ€™s an easy way to remember this â€“ a Level 2 autonomous car can take care of at least two primary functions simultaneously. But in some cases, like with Teslaâ€™s Autopilot system, it can even take care of steering the car. However, whatâ€™s important to note is that the driver is still required to monitor the surroundings to take over the controls in case of an emergency.
Level 3, conditional automation:
This is where all the Tesla cars will be in the coming months. At this stage, the carâ€™s system will monitor the driving environment and the driverÂ can handover all driving duties to it. However, the system will ask the driver to intervene in certain situations for which the driver should be ready.
Level 4, high automation:
Like Level 3, the car takes control of all driving functions. However, even if the driver doesnâ€™t respond to an intervention request, the car will still react according to the situation to avoid danger.
Level 5, full automation:
A Level 5 car can perform all functions with no intervention from the driver, whatsoever. This means that the car can drive to places even if it is unoccupied. Tesla has just announced that all its cars from now on will be manufactured with Level 5 compatible hardware.