Automakers have been working on autonomous vehicles for quite some time now. When Google unveiled its self-driving car initiative (Wamyo) in 2009, things started to get serious. A few years later, in November of 2018, Tesla released a feature called Navigate on Autopilot, following an announcement by Elon Musk that the company would install a self-driving system into its vehicles. Automakers like GM, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and others began developing their own versions of autonomous driving systems in 2013. Uber has also recently revealed plans to introduce autonomous vehicles to the nation’s capital. Both General Motors and Honda have revealed the release of a new autonomous vehicle called Origin.
It’s no surprise that many major automakers are trying to develop completely autonomous or driverless vehicles in light of the recent advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things. The autonomous vehicle industry is expanding rapidly as the time crunch to get driverless cars on the road shortens. About 8 million fully or partially autonomous cars will be on the road by 2025, according to estimates from the research community.North America will be home to 29% of the world’s self-driving cars by 2025, when the global market for autonomous vehicles is projected to reach $36 billion. The data speaks for itself, but the guardian also predicted that by 2020 “you’ll be a permanent backseat driver,” which is obviously not the case. There are varying degrees of autonomy in self-driving vehicles; this technology is not science fiction. A delay for Knight Rider is inevitable. Let’s examine who’s making what kind of autonomous vehicles at what price points so we can get a clearer grasp of the state of the industry.
Autonomous Driving Levels
There are six tiers of driving automation, as specified by SAE’s (Society of Automotive Engineers) J2016 standard in 2016 and 2018. Vehicles with varying degrees of automation provide pilots with a range of possibilities. Each degree of automation describes a different set of features and capabilities that contribute to the ease with which drivers can operate their vehicles. There are currently a large number of level 0 and level 2 autonomous cars available. The term “advanced driver assistance systems” (ADAS) is being thrown around by automakers all over the world to describe vehicles that have some automated features to help the driver out. Vehicles equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) can spot specific objects, perform simple calculations, warn the driver of hazardous road conditions, and in some instances even come to a complete stop on their own.
All operating duties, including steering, braking, speeding up or slowing down, etc., are handled by the driver at Level 0 (No Automation). Although it can issue warnings and make brief adjustments, the automated system does not have full control of the car at any time. Even though functions like Forward Collision-avoidance Assist (FCA), Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Blind-spot Collision Warning (BCW), and Driver Attention Warning (DAW) are included in Level 0 vehicles, the driver is ultimately responsible for operating the vehicle safely.
The vast majority of the cars we drive today are still Level 0. Vehicles at level 0 of automation include the 2007 Ford Focus and the 2010 Toyota Prius.
The driver and the system work together to operate the car at Level 1 (Driver Assistance). The driver is responsible for all acceleration, braking, and vehicle monitoring, while the system takes care of things like maintaining a preset speed (cruise control), using engine and brake power to maintain and change speed (Adaptive Cruise Control or ACC), assisting with lane keeping, etc.
The 2018 Toyota Corolla (with Toyota Safety Sense1), 2018 Nissan Sentra (with Intelligent Cruise Control), 2018 Kia Stinger GT, 2010+ Audi A 7, 2011 Jeep Cherokee, multiple Chevrolet models, etc. all feature at least Level 1 automation.
Vehicles at the Level 2 (Partial Automation) level can navigate and accelerate/decelerate with little or no driver input. The person sitting in the driver’s seat is responsible for taking command of the vehicle at any moment. Level 2 autonomous cars are currently in development by numerous automakers.
Examples of Level 2 autonomy include Tesla’s Autopilot, Volvo’s Pilot Assist, Cadillac’s Super Cruise, Mercedes-Benz’s Distronic Plus, Nissan’s ProPilot Assist, and Audi’s Traffic Jam Assist. Autopilot is Tesla’s suite of driving assistance technologies, which enables automatic steering on undivided roads subject to speed limits and features Traffic-Aware Cruise Control and Autosteer with lane shift. Another top-notch illustration of a Level 2 autonomous vehicle is GM’s Super Cruise. It’s a Super Cruise-equipped vehicle, so you can relax while driving.
Although the driver still needs to pay attention, they are free to disengage from “safety-critical” functions like braking and leave it to the technology when conditions are safe. This is known as Level 3 (Conditional Automation) and is sometimes referred to as the “eyes-off” level. Many modern Level 3 cars can drive safely with no human intervention at speeds under 37 mph.
The Level 3 automation of the Audi A8 is the first in a mass-produced vehicle. At speeds of up to 60 kilometers per hour on main roads with a physical barrier separating the two carriageways, the A8’s AI Traffic Jam Pilot takes control at the touch of a button.The user is notified when the system’s capabilities are exceeded so that they can resume control. Honda Motors, the second Japanese automaker to join the fray, intends to introduce a commercially available vehicle with SAE Level 3 autonomous driving technology by the end of the year.
Vehicles at Level 4 (High Automation), also known as “mind-off” vehicles, are able to make decisions about where to go, how fast to go, which lanes to switch to, and when to use turn signs without any input from the driver. At this stage, the vehicle’s autonomous driving system would alert the driver when driving conditions are safe, and the driver would then activate this option. It is unable to differentiate between more complex driving scenarios, such as merging onto a highway or sitting in gridlock.
Honda has stated that it plans to release a Level 4 car by the year 2026. Companies like Lyft, Uber, Google, and others have been hard at work developing Level 4 cars for some time.
Vehicles at the highest degree of automation (degree 5) can operate completely independently of their drivers. Simply put, a level 4 autonomous car is completely hands-free. Audi’s Aicon idea is a robotic taxi that represents the next generation of automobiles. Pedals, brakes, and a steering wheel are unnecessary because the autonomous vehicle system handles them all, along with monitoring the surrounding area and recognizing unusual driving circumstances like traffic jams.NVIDIA’s Drive PX Pegasus is an artificial intelligence computer that was unveiled a few years ago with the goal of reaching level 5 autonomy, in which the driver only needs to enter the location and the car will take care of the rest.
Level 5 automated vehicles are already in development, with examples including the Volkswagen Group SeDriC (SElf-DRIving Car) and the Audi AIcon concept. The Numo is an unmanned, level-5 aircraft.
Uber, the industry leader in ridesharing, has partnered with Volvo to create autonomous cars. Volvo-built Uber autonomous taxis should be hitting the streets shortly. Nissan has also started testing its Easy Ride service in Yokohama, Japan, and a fully functional driverless taxi service is expected to be in place in time for the Tokyo Olympics this year. Additionally, Tesla is making efforts to have its vehicles function as autonomous taxis when not in use.
Automakers aren’t the only ones investing in autonomous vehicle technology; companies like Fish Eye Box, Flux Auto, etc. are making strides in the industry as well.Top automakers predict that fully autonomous cars (Level 4) will hit the roadways by 2020. Most research and consulting companies, however, predict that level 4 vehicles won’t start seeing significant market share until 2025, and that level 5 vehicles won’t be a reality for at least another decade.
In conclusion, we can say that the development of self-driving vehicle technology over the past few years has guaranteed us one thing: the arrival of the automobile revolution. There is no question that automakers will roll out more and more automated vehicles equipped with cutting-edge technologies.