Automated driving (ADAS) isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Not at all. Automobile manufacturers are gradually incorporating active safety and self-driving systems into their vehicles. These aspects are classified into logical groupings based on how they mix acceleration, braking, and steering (known as longitudinal and lateral control) 

Some characteristics have the same functionality as others, but they differ in the degree of human control vs. autonomous system control of the vehicle, corresponding to various levels of driving automation.

Although there are many gray regions where features may overlap, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) devised an industry-standard scale from zero to five to describe this continuum. Here’s what those levels mean in general:

ADAS Level 0

There will be no automation. The driver is solely responsible for the vehicle’s control, including steering, braking, accelerating, and slowing down. Backup cameras, blind spot warnings, and collision warnings are all available on Level 0 vehicles. Because it does not act over a continuous period, even automatic emergency braking, which provides severe braking in the case of an impending collision, is categorized as Level 0.

ADAS Level 1

The automated systems begin to assume control of the car in specified scenarios at this level, although they do not entirely take over. Adaptive cruise control, which governs acceleration and braking in highway driving, is an example of Level 1 automation. Drivers can remove their feet off the pedals depending on the functionality.

Partially Automated (Level 2)

Due to a greater knowledge of its surroundings, the vehicle can execute more complex functions that combine steering (lateral control) with accelerating and braking (longitudinal control).

Advanced Partial Automation (Level 2+)

While Level 2+ is not an official SAE level, it is an essential category that provides high performance at a price that customers can pay. Level 2+ functions include functions where the vehicle systems are effectively driving, but the driver must still monitor the vehicle and be prepared to intervene if necessary. (By comparison, Level 3 is a huge technological leap since it is the first level at which drivers can withdraw from the act of driving — a phenomenon known as “mind off”)

Highway aid and traffic congestion assistance are examples of Level 2+ assistance. Consumer interest is high since the opportunity for drivers to take their hands off the wheel and look aside from the road ahead for a few moments allows for a far more relaxed and enjoyable experience.

Conditional Automation (Level 3)

Drivers at Level 3 can detach from the act of driving, but only in certain circumstances. Certain vehicle speeds, road types, and weather circumstances may be restricted. However, because drivers can divert their attention to another work, such as reading a phone or newspaper, this is often seen as the first step toward autonomous driving.

For example, features like traffic jam pilot allow users to sit back and relax while the system manages all aspects of driving, including acceleration, steering, and braking. When the car passes through a stop-and-go traffic jam and the vehicle speed increases, the vehicle sends an alarm to the driver to restore control. The car must also monitor the driver’s condition to ensure that he or she regains control and, if necessary, come to a safe stop.

Level 4 refers to a high level of automation

At this level, the vehicle’s autonomous driving system is completely capable of monitoring the driving environment and performing all driving functions for the vehicle’s usual routes and circumstances (ODD). If there is an environmental condition that demands human control, such as thick snow, the vehicle may inform the driver that it is approaching its operational limits. If the driver does not answer, the vehicle will be automatically secured.

ADAS Level 5: Entails complete automation

Level 5 capable vehicles are completely self-contained. There is no requirement for a driver to be present behind the wheel. In fact, Level 5 cars may lack a steering wheel as well as gas and brake pedals. Passengers in Level 5 vehicles may be able to use voice commands to select a location or control interior parameters such as temperature and media selection.

The SAE updated their taxonomy in April 2021 to specify that Levels 0-2 are “driver support features,” whereas Levels 3-5 are “automated driving features,” because the driver is still heavily involved with the vehicle operation.

As vehicles increasingly assume functions previously managed by the driver, each level of automation necessitates more layers of sensors. A Level 1 vehicle, for example, might just have one radar and one camera. A Level 5 vehicle, which must be able to travel through any environment, will require full 360-degree sensing from numerous sensor types.

Also, read: The MG Astor with level-2 ADAS revealed