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Is There A Level 5 AV?

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Jan. 11, 2021—It seems as though autonomous vehicles are just around the corner, but what does that actually entail? Automakers have no shortage of buzzwords when it comes to advertising the latest “self-driving” or “fully autonomous” vehicle, but what do the varying levels of autonomy include? Better yet—what do they leave out? 

ADAPT has developed a guide for the levels of autonomy, their advantages and drawbacks, and which automakers are leading the charge. 

Level Zero, No Automation 

In a vehicle with no autonomous features, the driver is responsible for conducting each task including steering, braking, and accelerating. According to TrueCar, a vehicle that has only standard cruise control is still considered level zero automation. 

Aptiv reports that a vehicle with blind spot warnings and collision warnings can also be considered level zero because the features do not engage over a sustained period of time. 


Level One, Driver Assistance

Level one autonomy is primarily designed for crash avoidance. This is the first level in which the car can take control of the vehicle in addition to the driver, but still requires the vehicle be monitored by the driver. Level one automation is also used to fight driver fatigue, reports TrueCar, with features such as adaptive cruise control and lane keep warnings. 

Almost all newer cars on the road today have level one autonomy including Toyota models outfitted with Toyota Safety Sense and BMW models with driver assistance systems.


Level Two, Partial Automation

Similar to level one, level two autonomy still requires the driver to be able to take over at any minute, but allows the vehicle to perform more complex functions. Synopsys reports that level two autonomy includes advanced driver assistance systems.

Vehicles with partial autonomy can control acceleration and braking while maintaining a safe distance between other vehicles. Cars with Tesla Autopilot, Volvo Pilot Assist, and Audi Traffic Jam Assist are at level two autonomy.  


Level Three, Conditional Automation

Put simply, a vehicle with level three automation is able to drive itself if the conditions are absolutely perfect. A human driver is still required in a level three autonomous vehicle, but the car can perform most tasks by itself. 

According to Aptiv, level three automation must also monitor the driver’s state, including body position, gestures, and eye movement. Vehicles with level three automation can emit a warning or an alert when a driver appears to be distracted or dozing off. 

Honda hopes to be the first automaker to mass-produce vehicles with level three autonomy, reports TechCrunch, including features like traffic jam pilot. 


Level Four, High Automation

According to The Next Web, vehicles with level four automation are “so capable of driving themselves they technically need no driver at all.” 

Level four autonomous vehicles are fully capable of monitoring their surroundings while also controlling the vehicle. Waymo is one of the only companies currently testing autonomous vehicles with level four automation. 


Level Five, Full Automation 

Level five automation is what comes to mind when you think “fully driverless.” Vehicles with level five automation do not need a driver and can perform each necessary task, despite the circumstances.

There has yet to be a vehicle with level five automation, but Tesla founder Elon Musk claims he is the closest, though only time will tell

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