The difference between autonomous and automated trucks/vehicles explained


Published by iTrucker at 21 Jun

The difference between autonomous and automated trucks/vehicles explained

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Story by: Alan Adler



The difference between autonomous and automated vehicles, including trucks, explained in 5 steps / levels of autonomy / automation.

You read the term Level 4 autonomy like you are supposed to know what it means. It’s OK if you don’t. Here’s a primer on the levels of autonomous vehicles.

SAE International, formerly the Society of Automotive Engineers, sets engineering standards for numerous industries. It lists six categories of autonomous operation, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration supports.

Level 0 – No automation. The driver does everything.

Level 1 – Driver assistance. The vehicle may have some automated driver assistance features, such as cruise control or lane departure warning. But the driver is still in complete control.

Level 2 – Partial automation. The vehicle has combined automated operations, like the ability to steer and brake itself. But the driver must remain engaged and monitor the automated functions. In other words, no napping when behind the wheel.

Level 3 – Conditional automation. The driver is needed but doesn’t have to pay attention to the environment at all times but must be ready to take over operation when alerted.

Level 4 – High automation. The vehicle is capable of performing all driving functions under certain conditions. The driver may have the option to take over control.

Level 5 – The vehicle is capable of performing all driving functions under all conditions. A human driver may have the option to control the vehicle.

5 levels of vehicles autonomy/automation


But the industry, from startup software companies to manufacturers to large fleets, are embracing Level 4 high autonomy, which today involves a safety driver but may soon take the driver out of the equation on certain repeatable medium- and long-haul routes. Almost weekly, one startup or another, reports of a development edging closer to “driver out” operation.

The company leading the charge toward removing human drivers is TuSimple Holdings (NASDAQ: TSP), which recently went public via a traditional initial public offering. TuSimple has a plethora of partners, from Navistar (NYSE: NAV), with which it will bring a Level 4 truck to market in 2024, to major fleets and suppliers.

Others are less aggressive about removing the driver as they amass data to help the software absorb more through artificial intelligence and machine learning. As these progress, so-called disengagements of autonomous systems are becoming less frequent.

The race is on, but who gets to Level 4 commercialization may not be that important.

Read the original and full article HERE


Source and credits: A . Adler / / United States Department of Transportation (FMCSA) – National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) /


iTrucker  / Mario Pawlowski /


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