What are the SAE Levels of Driving Automation?

This post was originally published on AutomotiveNews.com

The SAE Levels of Driving Automation describe the capabilities of automated driving systems. After years of working on Level 4 automation, many automakers are redirecting their energy toward Levels 2 and 3 in passenger vehicle applications. Here are the levels and examples of their use.

Level 0: A human is driving at all times. Features are limited to warnings and momentary active assistance, such as automated emergency braking.

Level 1: A human is driving at all times. Features support steering, braking or throttle inputs. Adaptive cruise control is an example.

Level 2: A human is responsible for driving, even if the system is sustaining active control of the vehicle. Features provide steering and throttle control, such as lane-centering and adaptive cruise control, at the same time. General Motors’ Super Cruise system and Tesla’s Autopilot are in this category.

Level 3: An automated system drives when engaged in a specific area, such as a highway. The human is not considered the driver but must take over when the system requests they do so. Mercedes-Benz’s Drive Pilot is an example.

Level 4: An automated system drives, and a human has no role in the driving process. These systems may operate in specific conditions and limited areas. No vehicles with these types of systems are for sale to consumers. Waymo and Cruise have deployed and commercialized robotaxi services, which are considered Level 4.

Level 5: The same as Level 4, except these vehicles can drive everywhere in all conditions. This level is not commercially available.