Not long ago, self-driving cars were only talked about in sci-fi movies. Today, companies such as Tesla are testing the limits of autonomous vehicles capabilities in today’s society. They already have auto-pilot features in their Model-S. But how close are we actually to complete autonomous driving vehicles? Experts believe it is not too far. However, they firmly believe that to maximize safety and usability they must contain differently levels of assisted driving technology.
Today partially autonomous vehicles are all over the road. Many car brands have sensors and systems that can help drivers stay in their lane, automatic breaking systems, and driver alerting systems; however, Tesla is the industry leader with their Model S. The Model S has Autopilot capabilities, but many drivers have this feature disabled due to fear of safety concerns. This feature is only to assist drivers and is not designed to completely take control. In fact, it requires you to have both hands on the steering wheel at all times. The system works best on open stretches of highway, and it is not recommended in densely populated urban streets because the system does not recognize traffic lights. The assisted driving feature utilizes sensors all around the body of the car. It will keep up with traffic at a set speed, break when necessary, and maintain the lane of your choosing. So what’s next for self-driving cars?
Experts in the industry have created a self driving scale that goes from zero to five. Each level has different levels of autonomous driving capabilities. At zero, it is basically a warning system that issues warnings when necessary, but it has no vehicle control. Level one allows for the system to take partial control of the vehicle. It sets things such as cruise control and can control speed when necessary. It also has assisted parking capabilities. The driver must be ready to take full control of the vehicle at anytime. Level two capabilities are known as “hands-off” technology. It is designed to accelerate, break, and steer for you. However, at no time should the driver literally take their hands off of the wheel. The driver still must be prepared and able to take control at any time. Level three is known as the “eyes-off” setting. During level three the driver can safely take their attention off of driving, allowing for the driver to do things such as watch a movie. This is only allowed in limited geofenced areas under very limited circumstances. Level four is very similar to level three and can only be used in specific geofenced areas. It is known as the “mind-off” level, allowing the driver to sleep or even move about the vehicle. Finally level five, as one could guess requires zero human interaction. It is more of a robotic-taxi. While the technology for all of these features are constantly being innovated and tested, there is still a ways to go because in order for them to be implemented they must be flawless.