Even when Autonomous Cars are becoming a popular term, the public is still afraid of them: three out of four US drivers are scared to ride vehicles which drive themselves according to the American Automobile Association (AAA), and only one in five will trust in a self-driving vehicle. Despite the efforts of engineers around the globe to refine the autonomous technologies for cars and trucks, this frightening is delaying both a true acceptance of the technology and the adoption of Autonomous Vehicles.
Education is one of the keys to overcome the fear of the public and convince them that Autonomous Vehicles can safely operate in streets and roads; in addition to developing the self-driving technologies, manufacturers will have to both demonstrate them in real-world conditions and keep pushing the self-driving adoption across cars and trucks. Nowadays, Autonomous Vehicles in trial environments and also on public roads are succeeding, proving that automation is a tool to improve safety. The public is willing to accept some level of autonomy; the AAA also found more than 60% of car buyers looked for at least one autonomous feature in their vehicle: Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Intelligent Parking Assist System (IPAS), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), or Auto Emergency Braking (AEB). Almost 90% of the drivers who selected such features mentioned safety as the principal reason.
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE International) published in 2014 their Taxonomy and Definitions for Terms Related to On-Road Motor Vehicle Automated Driving Systems —the J3016. Based on the amount of driver intervention needed in Autonomous Vehicles, the SAE defined a six-level automotive standardization body:
- Level 0 is "no automation": the driver full-time performs all aspects of the driving.
- Level 1 is "Drive Assistance": the driver is in control but allows for automated acceleration/braking in some situations, like cruise control or emergency stops.
- Level 2 is "Partial Automation": the driver keeps control, but the vehicle guidance incorporates automated steering systems.
- Level 3 is "Conditional Automation": the driver does not have to constantly look at the road because the vehicle operates a continuous environment monitoring.
- Level 4 is "High Automation": enables the vehicle to respond to critical situations without driver intervention.
- Level 5 is "Full Automation": the vehicle operates entirely without a human, not requiring a steering wheel, foot pedals, or any manual controls.
Identifying the improvements needed to make successful the human-machine interaction is the biggest (and trickiest) challenge when leveling-up the automation of cars and trucks. In order to avoid the public to be afraid of Autonomous Vehicles, engineers are currently solving one of the greatest risks of self-driving vehicles: when the human and machine are both involved in decision making.