The world of autonomous cars is vast and complicated, featuring a range of different variables and considerations as the world moves slowly towards more automation in driving.
We’ll give you a brief overview of what an autonomous car is here, but those interested in reading more should check out the Wikipedia article.
An autonomous car (also called a self-driving car) is a car that is able to operate with little or no human input.
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) classifies autonomous cars from level 0 to level 5.
Level 0 is where the car may issue warnings but will not take any sustained control of the car.
Level 1 is where the car can either accelerate/decelerate or steer by itself – but the driver must be ready to retake control at any time. Examples of level 1 automation include Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Lane Keep Assist (LKA) systems.
Level 5 autonomous cars are where no human intervention is required at all and is the ultimate goal of the industry developing autonomous driving technology.
Currently, most cars have technology that puts them at level 1 or 2 with some brands such as Tesla now pushing the boundaries of level 3 and 4.
At level 3 the driver is able to completely take their attention away from the road but must still remain available to retake control if requested to do so by the car.
There are a huge range of potential advantages and disadvantages of autonomous car technology
The obvious advantage being the ability for people to take less of a role in driving the vehicle leading to a more relaxing journey and increased productivity during trips.
Disadvantages may include issues with other non-autonomous vehicles sharing the road, hacking, loss of driving-related jobs, and more.
At the moment it’s too early to tell where things will lead and how our roads will evolve with the gradual increase in automation technology but one thing is for sure – you can expect to see more of this technology making its way into every new car you buy.