What is electric vehicle autopilot is a question many people have. First, the official autopilot designation is Advanced Driver Assitance Systems, or ADAS for short. When I first heard of autopilot in electric cars, I pictured a vehicle driving itself. I thought of Knight Rider. However, I quickly learned that fully autonomous vehicles are a long way out. Nevertheless, the society of automotive engineers has defined five levels of vehicle automation.
Electric Vehicle Driving Automation Levels Explained
- Level 0 represents a vehicle where the driver manages all aspects of driving. For example, the driver may have some features such as emergency braking, blind-spot warning, or lane departure warning, but the driver is making all the decisions.
- Level 1 represents a vehicle where the driver is in control but may have a limited driver assistance feature. For example, the vehicle may have either lane-centering or adaptive cruise control.
- Level 2 represents a vehicle with partial driving automation. For example, cars with lane-centering and adaptive cruise control capabilities help drive vehicles in certain situations. However, he still needs to be supervising the car at all times.
- Level 3 is a vehicle that has partial automation. For example, the car could drive itself in limited circumstances but requires human supervision.
- Level 4 vehicles have a high level of driving automation. As a result, the car should be able to handle most driving situations, but there would be instances when the vehicle would need human intervention.
- Level 5 vehicles are fully autonomous and can drive themselves in all situations.
Electric Vehicle Autopilot today
Most vehicles today that offer autopilot are level 2 in driving automation. Today, autopilot drivers need to be constantly alert and ready to take over, as driving automation is limited. From my experience using Tesla’s autopilot features, the vehicle has integrated aspects of adaptive cruise control, lane centering, and navigation features. However, when using the feature, you must be ready to take over immediately, as the vehicle does not know how to handle all the scenarios a driver may face. As of 2023, Mercedes Benz is one of the electric vehicle makers to release a level 3 ADAS system.
Concerns Around Driving Autopilot
While there has been a lot of buzz and attention focused on autopilot systems, there are some areas of concern:
- Safety: While technology has made advances in self-driving vehicles, there are safety concerns. Accidents have been reported involving autopilot systems, and the technology cannot adequately handle certain driving situations or unexpected events.
- Liability: When it comes to accidents involving autopilot systems, it is not clear who is liable in the event of an accident. Therefore there are questions about who would be responsible for any damages if an accident was to occur.
- Cybersecurity: Autopilot systems rely heavily on computer systems. Therefore autopilot systems are vulnerable to cyberattacks. Hackers could take control of a vehicle, steal data, or cause other malicious activities compromising security.
- Ethical Concerns: Within autopilot systems, there are questions about what priorities will be made. For example, will the driver take precedence in autopilot decision-making at the cost of the drivers and passengers or vice versa? There are questions about how certain situations will be handled and who will be prioritized.
- Automation replacing Jobs: While a ways away, whenever automation is discussed, the loss of jobs comes into the conversation. Once driving automation reaches level 5 or is fully automated, jobs will be lost. Taxi and Uber drivers and truckers see their job prospects leading to figuring out new forms of employment.
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