The Evolution of Autonomous Cars

Posted on April 05, 2017

Companies such as Google (Waymo), Uber, Ford, and Tesla are scrambling to get driverless cars onto the market. The problem is that it can be confusing, since every manufacturer with anything remotely like an autonomous vehicle seems to overstate what the cars can do.

Self-driving, autonomous, and autopilot are all pretty vague terms. Autonomy in cars isn’t an on/off state, it’s more of a continuum, with a blending of the human and the machine over control of the car. To make matters worse, news reports and automakers often refer to cars as “Level 2″ autonomous or one day achieving “Level 4″ autonomy.

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) divides the levels of autonomy into six, and the Business Insider has created the below infographic to give a better understanding of the difference between the levels:


The best-known car currently for sale with an appreciable level of autonomy, the Tesla Model S’ Autopilot, is Level 2.

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