The terms “autonomous vehicle” and “self-driving car” have been buzzwords for about three to four years now, but finally, we are starting to see them in action and even on display! So, as European manufacturers continue to manufacture first generation, consumer grade automobiles with certain autonomous elements built into them, let’s now take a look at how things stand and what the future of autonomous vehicles hold in the next few years.
‘Levels’ are Used to Determine the Grade of an Autonomous Vehicle
There are in total, six ‘Levels’, which range from Level 0 to Level 5. These are used as classification terms for autonomous vehicles in the sector. Go through the following to know what each of the levels designates in the segment and what features come with each additional upgrade in their respective ADS status.
Level 0: The Most Common Features Available Today
If you look for available autonomous vehicles in the market as of 2019, most of the models will fall under this category. While the driver actually controls all functionalities in relation to the actual driving part, Level 0 autonomous vehicles will still offer basic, but quite useful features such as blind-spot and divider warnings, as well as emergency, automatic braking functionality.
Given that they are not self-driving in any way, the Level 0 classification is assigned to these models.
Level 1: Assistive Driving Features
Also seen commonly in a lot of available vehicles today, Level 1 is used to denote cars with driver assistance features such as adaptive cruise control and lane centering. Of course, this comes in addition to all Level 0 features as well.
Level 2: Not that Different to Level 1
Although it’s hard to distinguish Level 1 and Level 2 autonomous vehicles from each other, the main difference is in the Level 2 car’s ability to simultaneously and automatically utilize all of the features from Level 0 and Level 1 Vehicles.
Level 3: Conditional Automated Driving
This is when the term self-driving can be considered as applicable for a vehicle since Level 3 autonomous cars are capable of true self-driving, but only as long as certain preset and variable criterions for autonomous driving are present on the road.
Level 4: Human Driver is Only Necessary for Monitoring
In a Level 4 self-driving car, the human driver will assume a mostly passive role, and would only be required to take control of the wheel if the drive includes going off-road, or if the ADS system senses a dangerous condition ahead which it can’t handle yet.
Level 5: Robots Taking Over!
This is the self-driving car that can scare people away by appearing in the middle of the road like a ghost car with no drivers! Although no car has reached such a high level of complete automated driving capability yet, a Level 5 autonomous vehicle would be a self-driving car in its truest sense. It would theoretically be able to handle any and all road conditions even better than human drivers, making them practically unnecessary. Tesla believes they can manufacture a product like that by 2020, which would mean that they are essentially on the verge of unveiling it sometime next year.
The Demand for Qualified Techies in the Sector is Only Going to Grow
There are similarities between VR and autonomous cars in the sense that both have tremendous undeniable potential, but unfortunately, we are yet to see either technology reach their expected points of excellence. However, that is precisely what makes the autonomous technology sector a hiring hotspot for talented engineers, technicians, and all other associated professionals.
So much work is still needed, which is why the demand for someone with a Masters in Electrical and Computer Engineering in this field is tremendous. Such qualified individuals with the right aptitude are constantly being picked up by top automotive manufacturers and software development teams, such as Ford, Toyota, GM, Volkswagen, Google, Microsoft and Tesla to name a few. This has essentially made automotive engineers, software developers and other techies with a Masters in Electrical and Computer Engineering (MS in ECE-Advanced Mobility), some of the highest-paid employees working in the sector. As we begin to make further headway into both the technological and the business aspects of self-driving cars, this demand is only going to grow inevitably.
Do You Have an Autonomous Vehicle?
Remember how we mentioned that some of the Level 0 elements are found quite commonly nowadays? Well, it does mean that if you have a premium car that you bought in the last two years or so, it is very likely that it has autonomous emergency braking, lane break warnings and other such features of a Level 0 or even Level 1 autonomous car, built-in. Many of us could be driving around in semi-autonomous vehicles, without even knowing that to be the fact – this is especially so if your vehicle is of a European make.
Europe is Banking on AI Integration in Everything
It’s no secret that the EU is already more accepting of autonomous vehicles than the United States or the rest of the world for that matter. However, if the words of European Union Commissioner for Transportation is to be taken into account, the EU aims to incorporate the same technology in all aspects of locomotion, including airplanes, ships, trains, commercial vehicles, personal vehicles, public vehicles and of course, drones.
Over the course of the next two to three years, most manufacturers will slowly begin to release new autonomous vehicle models, as well as revisioning the current ones. It is expected that by the next decade, even some of the public transport facilities may start to implement advanced autonomous elements in them, under the supervision of a qualified human driver. It remains to be seen how much of that actually comes to be, but self-driving cars are certainly the future, of which there is no doubt. It may take longer for such a future to arrive, but it will arrive eventually.