Autonomous features are increasingly being added to production vehicles, taking us closer to the emergence of fully autonomous road, sky and sea navigation. By understanding what capabilities an entirely self-driving vehicle would have compared to a vehicle with no AV characteristics, we can better understand the direction of AV technology.
An industry standard developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) provides guidance on differing autonomy levels. This standard, defining six stages of vehicle automation, from levels zero to five, offers a helpful baseline for referencing what stage of autonomy a particular vehicle is (Figure 52). Level 0 vehicles are entirely human-dependent, with the driver performing all tasks related to positioning and safety. Vehicles with Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) technologies such as Adaptive Cruise Control and Parking Sensors can provide some Level 1 or 2 assistance. Increasingly advanced, efficiently integrated technologies result in fully automated vehicles at Level 5, with no requirement for ongoing human interaction.