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A Guide to the Different Levels of Autonomous Driving for Automotive School Students

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Technology is always evolving in the auto industry, and it’s important for auto school students to stay up to date with the latest advancements. When you continue to learn about all of the possibilities of a mechanic career after graduation, you’ll set yourself up for success by keeping up with all of the newest improvements to vehicles.

It wasn’t that long ago that autonomous driving was a science fiction dream for the future. As self-driving cars become more of a reality, professionals in the auto industry should have a general understanding of how these systems work and what they can actually do. Keep reading for a guide on the classification system for autonomous driving in these newer vehicles.

Self-Driving Vehicle Classification System Overview for Those in Automotive School

When assessing vehicles either for damage or repair during automotive school, it will be useful to know what level of technology each vehicle has. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) developed a classification system that determines the degree to which the vehicle is self-driving, and to define the related equipment offered. This classification system for autonomous driving starts at Level 0 and goes up to Level 5. 

Levels vary in the amount of automation offered, from no automation technology to advanced, fully self-driving cars. Not all levels are in use yet, as some of the higher levels are still needing more advanced technology to ensure safety and efficiency. Let’s take a look at each level in a little more detail.

Levels 0-2: Currently the Only Ones on the Market

Levels 0-2 all require an active and engaged driver. These are the only levels of automated driving systems currently available on the market in North America. This is important to note, as you want to be able to relay this information to customers that may have one of these levels in their vehicle. They must always be awake, alert, and engaged when taking advantage of these technologies in their vehicles.

Each level builds off the last, increasing the amount of automation at each stage. For example, Level 0 offers no driving automation at all, and level 2 offers partial driving automation, meaning that there is an advanced driver assistance software installed. This allows the vehicle to control both steering and acceleration/deceleration, and sometimes braking. Level 1 is somewhere in between, offering a single automated system for driver assistance – the lowest rung of automation. This allows the driver to tell the car what speed to keep, while the driver remains responsible for monitoring the steering, braking, and other basic functions.

Level 0-2 technology requires the active supervision of a driver at all times, and Level 2 is the highest level you’ll currently see in the field following your mechanic program.

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Level 2 driving automation allows the vehicle to take over driving controls such as steering and acceleration

Levels 3-5: Automation of the Future

Levels 3-5 do not require an active driver and take full control over the driving system. These levels are not yet found in vehicles on the market in North America, but may make an entrance with the advancement of the safety of this technology. 

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Self-driving cars are undergoing continuous research for implementation

Level 3 driving automation offers a significant leap of technological takeover from level 2, using driver assistance systems and artificial intelligence to no longer require an active and engaged driver. Level 4 has high level driving automation, and may not even have a steering wheel or a gas/brake pedal, since a driver is not required. Level 5 is the highest classification of driving automation, meaning that a vehicle can fully drive itself everywhere in all conditions. The only human involvement with a Level 5 vehicle will be to set a desired destination.

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Categories: ATC News, Surrey
Tags: Auto mechanic college, automotive school, Mechanic program

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