July 13, 2024

Eusebio Lindert

Intelligent Transportation Tech

The Levels Of Autonomy Autonomous Vehicles Will Have To Go Through Before Showing Up In Your Drive


As autonomous vehicles become more and more common, it’s important for us to understand how they work and what happens before you get in. Autonomous vehicles are going to be at different levels of autonomy when they show up at your driveway and take you where you need to go. These levels have been outlined by SAE International (formerly known as Society of Automotive Engineers) as part of their J3016 standard “Phases of Automation”, which is based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Levels 0 through 4. Below, we’ll cover all five levels so that you can understand the basics before riding with an autonomous vehicle:

Level 0: No Automation

Level 0: No Automation

Level 0 vehicles have no automation features. There are no self-driving features, and the car cannot park itself. This is the most basic level of autonomy and will likely be the last to appear in your driveway, if ever.

Level 1: Function-specific automation (i.e. electronic stability control)

When you’re in your car and hear the words “electronic stability control,” you may think of it as a feature that allows your vehicle to keep itself from spinning out or sliding on ice. Electronic stability control does indeed do that, but it also has another important role: It helps prevent collisions.

The way it works is simple: when sensors detect that one wheel is slipping (or if you apply too much gas), they send signals to other parts of your car–specifically, its brakes–to compensate for this loss in traction. Think of it like having an autopilot system installed on a plane: It can’t fly by itself yet still has enough autonomy to help steer safely through turbulent weather conditions or other unexpected situations

Level 2: Combined function automation (i.e. adaptive cruise control with lane centering)

Combined function automation is the use of two or more automated features in a single system. Adaptive cruise control and lane centering are examples of combined function automation. This level of autonomy is one step higher than basic driver assistance systems, but it still requires human oversight.

Combined function automation represents a significant improvement over Level 1 autonomous driving because it allows for greater speed and distance between vehicles on the road, but it does not allow for complete independence from human drivers.

Level 3: Limited self-driving automation (i.e. driver sits behind wheel, but car drives itself in some situations)

Level 3: Limited self-driving automation (i.e. driver sits behind wheel, but car drives itself in some situations)

The car drives itself in some situations, but the driver is still required to be behind the wheel at all times. The driver must be ready to take control at any time, and must be able to do so within a few seconds (the length of time varies by jurisdiction). This means that Level 3 cars can operate without human intervention on most public roads with clear markings and signage–and sometimes even off road or on poorly marked roads–but only under certain conditions like daylight hours and good weather conditions.

Level 4: Full self-driving automation (no human required at all in most driving situations)

The next level of autonomy is Level 4, which is full self-driving automation. This means the car will be able to drive itself in most situations without any human intervention at all.

In order for this to happen, your car would have to be able to detect its surroundings, predict what other vehicles and pedestrians will do next and plan out its route accordingly. It would also need to be able to adjust its speed depending on weather conditions or traffic jams along the way so that it can get where it needs within a reasonable amount of time without being dangerous or unsafe for everyone involved (including yourself).

Autonomous vehicles will get to your driveway in a few different levels of autonomy.

There are a few different levels of autonomy, and they’re all important. In order to understand what the future holds for autonomous vehicles, it’s important to know what each level means.

Level 0: No Automation (or “manual”)

The driver is in full control of their vehicle at all times. This includes both driving and braking control as well as monitoring other road users around them. This is considered the least safe level because there isn’t any automation happening here whatsoever–it’s just you behind the wheel!


The future of autonomous vehicles is bright, but it’s not here yet. The technology is still being tested and developed at every level of autonomy. You can expect to see more self-driving cars on the road over time as they become safer and more reliable, but you’ll have to wait until Level 5 before someone else does all the work for you!