What Are the 5 Levels of Vehicle Autonomy?


In 2016, the Department of Transportation found that about 94% of crashes were caused by human error. More statistics are in, and they all say the same thing: autonomous vehicles are safer than cars driven by people.

The features of every new car model point in the same direction. The future of driving is hands-free.

Ready to learn more about vehicle autonomy? Here’s everything you need to know about the levels of autonomous vehicles.

Zero Automation

A no automation vehicle is exactly what it sounds like – no software or AI driving assistance at all. At this level, often referred to as “level zero,” the vehicle is fully in control of the driver.

This means the vehicle is entirely the driver’s responsibility. It is at higher risk of accidents in the hands of a fallible person.

Driver Assistance

Level one of automation has already become familiar in modern cars. Tools like lane-keeping warnings, automatic braking, and even assisted acceleration are all included in this level.

Driver assistance reduces or prevents a lot of the worst driving mishaps. It fills in the gaps in human attention and response times to keep passengers safer. A driver is still required to be in complete control of the vehicle.

Partial Automation

The next level is where a driver can start relaxing. Though hands need to be on the wheel, partial automation can help with steering and speed. This is especially useful in stop-and-go traffic.

These features are already available in newer cars! For instance, Tesla’s famous autopilot falls under this category.

Conditional Automation

At level three, a driver can take their hands off the wheel – but only in ideal conditions. That means it’s only safe to use at certain speeds, in good weather, and on the right kind of road.

You may be able to sip your morning coffee on your commute with this kind of vehicle, but you still need to be aware of changing conditions. The car will warn drivers before they need to take control.

High Automation

High automation means hands-free driving in most conditions and environments. The vehicle requires little human interaction to get to the destination.

This technology is available today, but there are regulations preventing their use in most cases. As the tech is tested and proven more each day, you may start seeing level four vehicles on the road!

Fully Autonomous Vehicles

With full autonomy, you’re looking at one hundred percent driverless vehicles. They are ready to go without any human assistance in all conditions.

Fully autonomous vehicles, like Columbia vehicles, aren’t exactly made for street use yet. However, many players in the warehousing industry already use level five autonomous vehicles to improve efficiency and safety.

Learn More About Vehicle Autonomy

Vehicle autonomy is growing and improving every day! There’s much more to learn about autonomous driving levels, so keep researching today. Keep up with the future of driving so that you’re not left behind!

Do you want to learn more about cars and other vehicles? Check out our other articles to find all the info you want to know.