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Levels of Driving Automation – There’s a Standard

image of autonomous vehicle with levels of drving automation

There are Standard Levels of Driving Automation

With all of the news about autonomous vehicles coming from CES 2020 this week I thought it would be of value to re-publish this article on standards for driving automation.

Unlike many technical markets, such as the lidar and 3D laser scanning  industry there is good news when it comes to a standard for describing levels of driving automation. The consumer markets have learned that developing and agreeing on standards, especially in emerging industries will benefit all parties and lead to increased productivity.

The standard in question is SAE J3016. SAE International is an automotive organization that promulgates standards for the automotive industry and more. You may have seen it when purchasing automotive oil.

The J3016 standard creates a taxonomy and definitions for terms related to on-road motor Vehicle Automated Driving Systems.

The levels are:

Level 0 – No Automation

Level 1 – Driver Assistance

Level 2 – Partial Automation

Level 3 – Conditional Automation

Level 4 – High Automation

Level 5 – Full Automation

In the first three levels a human has primary responsibility. In the last three the computer is in charge. Can you imagine this industry without standards?

The U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s policy guidance released Sept. 20, 2016 on the testing and deployment of automated vehicles validates SAE International’s J3016 standard as the global industry reference for defining the six levels of automated/autonomous driving—a topic which had been contested until now.

The DoT guidance document, “Federal Automated Vehicles Policy,” states that manufacturers are responsible “to determine their system’s AV [automated vehicle] level in conformity with SAE International’s published definitions.” This applies to both test and production vehicles. NHTSA will review the manufacturers’ automation level designations and advise them if the agency disagrees with the level assigned by the manufacturer.

The official guidance marks a break from the NHTSA’s 2013 language which was sometimes confused as a competing or even joint standard by some in the industry and media. SAE J3016 provides common taxonomy and definitions that underpin the “SAE Levels zero through 6” description that is used increasingly by industry and regulatory experts. The standard was published January 2014.

For additional information click here.

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