The Jetsons coming to life
Driverless cars circa the 1980s were such a futuristic and forward-thinking concept that they were only fathomable through cartoon depictions like the Jetsons. Today though, engineers (who I’m supposing were hard-core Jetson fans) have created five levels of real life driverless that are even cooler than their cartoon counterparts.
Tesla’s “Autopilot” feature, which boasts self-capabilities at safety levels greater than that of a human driver, is the closest us consumer’s will get to the Jetson experience thus far. In the meantime, self-driving cars with varying levels of autonomy are being publicly tested in states like California, Nevada, and Pennsylvania.
From self-parking to collision avoidance, there are an array of different features that will be made available to consumers. But before you start saving for your next dream, take a look at which kind is best for you and your futuristic needs.
Gauge the levels
Simply put, your car is most likely a zero automation car. A human driver is required to operate and fully control the vehicle.
Driver assisted/function specific
These cars are for those who don’t trust automobile’s with their lives. They still require a driver to operate the vehicle, but act as an aid to the driver, providing intelligent features that offer more convenience, safety, and comfort to the driver. This kind of car can send alerts regarding road conditions, environmental conditions, and potential obstructions.
Most commonly, Level 1 cars have features like lane keeping, automatic acceleration and deceleration in cruise control, and automatic stop to prevent collisions, while still requiring full control from the driver.
Partial automation/combined autonomous functions
At this level, a self-driving automobile can perform two or more simultaneous tasks like steering, lane keeping, and speed maintenance while in cruise control mode.
Automatic lane changing and self-parking in parallel and perpendicular spots are also available in some cases. The driver in a Level 2 vehicle, unlike in the aforementioned descriptions, gives partial control to the automobile.
Conditional automation/limited self-driving
In this case, the car assumes more than just partial control, and acts instead as a co-pilot.
Level 3 vehicles can manage most safety-critical driving functions in certain environmental conditions, like traffic jams on the highway.
Although the driver can relinquish a lot of tasks to the car, the driver must to be ready at all times to resume control.
Level 4 vehicles are capable of performing all safety-critical driving functions while monitoring environments in defined-use cases without human intervention.
Here, drivers need to enter the destination and navigation details and the car will handle the rest. There is still a driver cockpit, but the driver is able to look away from the road, take their hands off of the wheel, foot off of the accelerator, and still be safe.
This car, hence the name, does not require any effort or driving on behalf of the human owner.
There is actually no driving equipment in the car, and is instead designed to resemble comfortable environments like lounges and offices. The vehicle is in full control.
Get on their level
To satiate our obsession with all that is convenient, automated cars are expected to improve and become more complex as research and ideas develop.
If the engineers are true Jetson fans though, these improvements will reveal themselves as automated, flying cars just like theirs.
In the meantime, I’m going to stick with my Level 0 Honda and save for my Level 4 dream car. Which level would you drive? Let me know in the comments below!