Car Autonomy - Level Up!

We are pretty quickly heading towards the age of self-driving or fully-autonomous private cars, and we are probably further along that path than many of us think. 

The level of autonomy is usually presented as a numbered scale, 0 or 1 being the kind of car most of us are familiar with, and 4 or 5 being effectively a "robotic car", depending on the particular scale being used.

The SAE scale (PDF) is basically as follows:

0 - no automation
1 - driver assistance - e.g. help with steering or braking
2 - partial automation - e.g. help with steering AND braking
3 - conditional automation - e.g. car helps with most driving
4 - high automation - e.g. car drives itself under many conditions
5 - full automation - e.g. car drives itself all the time, anywhere

These are not legal definitions, but rather technical guidelines indicating what a particular technology is expected to do or is capable of.

Right now, in early 2018, we are playing around in the level 2 and 3 sand box (Tesla's system is level 2 on this scale, the new Audi 8 is allegedly level 3). That snuck up on us pretty quick, didn't it?

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