In the race to design, build and distribute driverless vehicles en mass, the automotive and technology industries have agreed on a set of definitions created by the Society of Automotive Engineers.
The six levels of autonomy range from no automation at all to full automation, ie there’s no need for a steering wheel or brakes when the vehicle is capable of driving itself in all conditions. In between, the levels reflect various driver assistance and autopilot features.
SAE International have now revised the six levels of classification to make it easier to distinguish between driver assistance features and outright autonomy.
The standards are an important shared language between law makers and engineers and have been adopted by the US Department of Transportation in its “Federal Automated Vehicles Policy, which became a de facto global standard adopted by stakeholders in the automated vehicle technology.