Let´s start from the beginning

We´re starting to see on social media something about motor vehicles that are able to go from A to B with little or even without any human input. Different names and designations are given to these vehicles and they seem to be able to do different things; some are able to drive distances in constant speeds, others are able to stop if they spot an obstacle and a few are even able to drive with no human inside. To be able to discuss the pros and cons of any subject is important to properly explain what we are talking about.

We see some news about accidents involving autonomous or self-driven vehicles and very few about the investigation in that area or what exactly is the nature of these vehicles. The subject is new and a lot needs to be done to investigate the technology properly, but without general knowledge, this technology will be even harder to implement, because one always get suspicions about the unknown.

SAE International1 provides a standardisation of the terminology for on-road motor vehicle automated Driving Systems. This classification identifies six levels of driving automation from “no automation” to “full automation” and is consistent with current industry practice.

  • Level 0 – No automation – human driver takes control of all aspects of the dynamic driving task;
  • Level 1 – Driver assistance – a driver assistance system of either steering or acceleration/deceleration is used; the human driver perform all remaining aspects of the dynamic driving task;
  • Level 2 – Partial automation – usage of one or more driver assistance systems of both: steering and acceleration/ deceleration; the human driver does everything else;
  • Level 3 – Conditional automation – an automated driving system drives by itself but the human driver will respond appropriately to a request to intervene;
  • Level 4 – High automation – the driving mode is performed by an automated driving system, even if a human driver does not respond appropriately to a request to intervene;
  • Level 5 – Full automation – full-time vehicle´s performance is controlled by an automated driving system.

Click in the image to open the original SAE table.

SAE automation level