The race for who will be the first automotive OEM to have fully autonomous cars on the streets is in full swing. According to the definition of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) there are six levels of autonomy:
Level 0: Automated system has no vehicle control, but may issue warnings.
Level 1: Driver must be ready to take control at any time. Automated system may include features such as Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Parking Assistance with automated steering, and Lane Keeping Assistance (LKA) Type II in any combination.
Level 2: The driver is obliged to detect objects and events and respond if the automated system fails to respond properly. The automated system executes accelerating, braking, and steering. The automated system can deactivate immediately upon takeover by the driver.
Level 3: Within known, limited environments (such as freeways), the driver can safely turn their attention away from driving tasks.
Level 4: The automated system can control the vehicle in all but a few environments such as severe weather. The driver must enable the automated system only when it is safe to do so. When enabled, driver attention is not required.
Level 5: Other than setting the destination and starting the system, no human intervention is required. The automatic system can drive to any location where it is legal to drive.
A timeline published today by Business Insider tries to predict – based on what the OEMs said – when each manufacturer will reach what autonomy level. Funny enough, two of the leading companies were simply left out: Tesla and Waymo (formerly Google).
That’s why I decided to create a new chart where both companies are included. And the picture looks very different.
As we know, since October Tesla has been equipping all new cars with the Autopilot hardware kit, and it’s expected that somewhere late 2017 or early 2018 the software will be ready. From that moment on all Teslas will likely have level 5 autonomy.
Waymo on the other hand started equipping the first 100 Fiat Chrysler Pacifica minivans with its self-driving car techology, and will likely begin tests of its own taxi fleet in the next weeks. With that move Fiat-Chrysler, which had been prominently absent from its own development of self-driving cars, will be catapulting itself to a top position thanks to the collaboration with Waymo.