What Is An Autonomous Vehicle?


An autonomous vehicle is capable of traveling distances without any human operation. Autonomous vehicles are also known as self-driving cars, robotic cars, or driverless cars.

Autonomous vehicles are able to detect their surroundings and maneuver their route as a human-operated vehicle would.

Some potential benefits of autonomous vehicles are:
  • Increased safety with less room for human error
  • Reduction in traffic collisions and related costs like insurance
  • Better mobility for the elderly and disabled

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has identified various levels of autonomous driving (via the SAE website):

Level 0 – No Automation: The full-time performance by the human driver of all aspects of the dynamic driving task, even when enhanced by warning or intervention systems

Level 1 – Driver Assistance: The driving mode-specific execution by a driver assistance system of either steering or acceleration/deceleration using information about the driving environment and with the expectation that the human driver performs all remaining aspects of the dynamic driving task

Level 2 – Partial Automation: The driving mode-specific execution by one or more driver assistance systems of both steering and acceleration/deceleration using information about the driving environment and with the expectation that the human driver performs all remaining aspects of the dynamic driving task

Level 3 – Conditional Automation: The driving mode-specific performance by an Automated Driving System of all aspects of the dynamic driving task with the expectation that the human driver will respond appropriately to a request to intervene

Level 4 – High Automation: The driving mode-specific performance by an Automated Driving System of all aspects of the dynamic driving task, even if a human driver does not respond appropriately to a request to intervene

Level 5 – Full Automation: The full-time performance by an Automated Driving System of all aspects of the dynamic driving task under all roadway and environmental conditions that can be managed by a human driver
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