Audi And 6 Levels Of Automotive Autonomy: MHH International
The new Audi A8 incorporates conditional automated driving at Level 3* as standard. Two concept cars that herald the next stages will also demonstrate the Audi vision for Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous technology. They are also providing insights into the brand’s future Audi AI technologies. It seems that the world of cars that pilot themselves is well and truly upon us.
The new A8 is the world’s first volume-production car to be designed for conditional automated driving at Level 3 in accordance with international standards. On highways and multi-lane motorways with a physical barrier separating the two directions of traffic, the Audi AI traffic jam pilot takes over the driving task in slow-moving traffic up to 60 km/h (37.3 mph).
The system handles starting from a stop, accelerating, steering and braking in its lane. If the driver has activated the traffic jam pilot at the AI button on the centre console, they can take their foot off the accelerator and their hands off the steering wheel for longer periods.
Unlike at level 2, they no longer need to monitor the car permanently and, depending on current national regulations, can turn to other activities supported by the on-board infotainment system. The driver must remain alert and capable of taking over the task of driving when the system prompts them to do so.
How It Works
The Audi AI traffic jam pilot is based on two technologies, which Audi incorporate as standard: The central driver assistance controller , which generates an image of the surroundings while driving by fusing sensor data. At the same time, a second data fusion takes place in the radar control unit. Meanwhile, the laser scanner, the second innovation, provides detailed information on vehicles cutting in and on the roadside peripheral structures, for instance. It’s hard for the layman to take in but, it does work.
Of course, different countries have different standards of, and attitudes to, autonomous driving. This means Audi will have to learn and adapt the sysytem for each country. Introduction of the traffic jam pilot in the A8 will be done incrementally, depending on the legal situation and the like in the respective country.
*Level Zero: No Automation
In other words, the driver drives. As it has always been, acceleration, braking and steering are all controlled by a real human at all times, even if they're assisted by warning sounds or safety intervention systems. If your car has automated emergency braking, for example, it can still be viewed as level zero.
Level One: Driver Assistance
Hands on the wheel. In certain driving modes, the car can either take control of the steering wheel or the pedals. The best examples of level one automation are adaptive cruise control and park assist. The computer is never in control of both steering and acceleration or braking.
Level Two: Partial Automation
Now it begins: Hands off the wheel if you dare but keep your eyes on the road. A level two vehicle has certain modes in which the car can take over both the pedals and the steering wheel, but only under certain conditions, and the driver must maintain ultimate control over the vehicle. Tesla’s ‘autopilot’ is an example of this.
Level Three: Conditional Automation
You can take your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road - sometimes. This is going to take some getting used to. In a level 3 vehicle, the car has certain modes that will fully take over the driving responsibilities, under certain conditions, but a driver is expected to retake control when the system asks for it. This car can decide when to change lanes, and how to respond to dynamic incidents on the road, but uses the human driver as the fallback system. This is where it starts to get a bit tricky where liability is concerned.
Level Four: High Automation
Hands off, eyes off, mind off – sometimes. A level four vehicle can be driven by a human, but it doesn't ever need to be. It can drive itself full time under the right circumstances, and if it encounters something it can't handle, it can ask for human assistance, but will park itself and put its passengers in no danger if human help isn't forthcoming. Essentially this is the first stage of a truly driverless motor.
Level Five: Full Automation
Do we even need a steering wheel? The interior might just as well be your living room because the vehicle neither needs nor wants your help, thank you very much. It means full-time automation of all driving tasks on any road, under any conditions, whether there's a human on board or not. Are you ready for this?