Technological advancement continues to be a driving force (pun intended) of the automotive industry — from the rapid rise of electric vehicles to advanced driver assistance technology. With companies like Google paving the way for autonomous, a.k.a. driverless, vehicles, people are wondering how this will change the trajectory of transportation, and if self-driving cars will eventually replace human-operated ones.
Since driverless cars are still in the early development stage, it’s too soon to predict their impact. In the meantime, let’s look at how self-driving technology is currently evolving.
SAE International, a global association of engineers and technical experts in the aerospace and automotive industries, has classified self-driving systems into six levels, with Levels 0-2 being the ones most popularly used in vehicles today.
At Level 0, the car reacts only to the driver’s input and has no self-driving capability. Examples of this include a blind-spot alert system or a lane-departure warning.
An example of Level 1 self-driving technology is a lane-keeping system that helps steer to center to keep you from veering into another lane or off the road.
Level 2 autonomous technology includes an adaptive cruise control system that adjusts your speed to keep your car a safe distance from the vehicle ahead while centering the car in its lane. Although this feature enables you to briefly take your hands off the wheel, this system still requires you to keep your eyes focused on the road so you can be ready to take over at any moment.
While Level 3 self-driving systems allow the car to drive itself under limited conditions (such as in a traffic jam), the driver must remain aware and prepared to take over. According to Honda, the Honda 100 Legend Flagship car (released on March 5, 2021) is the first Level 3 autonomous car and is only available in Japan for leasing. There are no Level 3 systems currently sold to consumers in the U.S.
Level 4 vehicles can drive in a fixed loop on familiar roads, and the passenger is not required to take over driving at any time. While some Level 4 driverless rideshare vehicles are undergoing limited testing, they are not yet approved for general use.
Level 5 autonomous cars can self-drive under any conditions and on any road, and do not have steering wheels or pedals. No Level 5 systems are available for consumer use at this point.
So, while it’s possible you may own a self-driving car in your lifetime, we still have a ways to go. Until then, we’re here to help you get connected with a local dealership that can approve you to purchase – and drive – a new or used car today. Credit Acceptance works with more than 12,000 enrolled dealers across the nation to help credit-challenged car buyers get approved for auto financing. Learn more about how our program works.
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