Here’s the difference between driver assistance and vehicle automation

Your new car is equipped with many driver assistance functions. But that doesn’t exactly make it an autonomous vehicle. So what is the difference?

What is driver assistance?

Driver assistance is also called advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). It refers to and encompasses features and technology that enhance the driver’s driving experience. These include:

  • Blind spot detection.
  • Forward, rear and cross traffic alerts.
  • Collision avoidance.
  • Lane departure warning.
  • Forward and side collision warning.
  • Adaptive cruise control.
  • Parking assistance.

For example, Volvo’s driver assistance feature is called Volvo Pilot assistance and provides steering assistance to help the driver stay within lane markings on a road.

It provides audible, visual and brake pulse warnings upon unexpected detection of cars, bicycles or pedestrians. If a collision is imminent, the car can brake automatically. It also helps maintain a set speed and distance between your car and the vehicle ahead.

What is an autonomous vehicle?

An autonomous vehicle has technology that allows it to drive without the assistance of a human driver. It is able to make decisions on its own accord and respond in real time to road challenges, such as oncoming traffic, curves and traffic lights.

Tesla offers a subscription feature called “Full Self-Driving” (or FSD). Despite a name that suggests otherwise, Tesla’s FSD is not autonomous but a driver assistance system. As you can see in the video below, Tesla still needs a lot of testing:

The company admitted last year in emails to the California DMVthat its subscription service is not self-driving.

To recap:

The difference between Driver-Assist and vehicle automation. Credit: The Autonomous Vehicle Industry Association

The five levels of vehicle automation

There are five tiers for vehicle automation categories, originally defined in 2018Who have evolved further technology has evolved over the past few years.

Driver assistance programs generally fall under Level 2, which means they require an alert driver who can take the wheel at all times.

Level 3 and 4 vehicle automation places limits on specific vehicle automation environments and conditions.

For example, in December 2021, the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) granted Mercedes-Benz system approval of a Level 3 Automation Driver to allow drivers to engage in activities such as watching movies while driving – apps that are otherwise blocked while driving under certain conditions. (It is not yet made public).

L4 autonomous driving does not require human intervention, but the driver still has the option to manually override and take control of the car.

In comparison, Level 5 is a car capable of making independent decisions – the car is the driver. A driverless car may not have a driver’s seat, steering wheel, throttle, or even brakes.

A small number of autonomous vehicles are commercially available – albeit in beta testing programs – for transporting and delivering goods:

Waymo One

Waymo has gained strong credibility in the extensive R&D and pilot testing of its driverless taxis. Credit: Waymo

from google Waymo One became the first service provider to offer driverless taxi rides to the general public in part of Phoenix, Arizona in 2020, with the program expanding to San Francisco.

People can hail cars via smartphone, with travel restricted to certain areas of the city where the vehicles have been extensively tested.


Nuro brings delivery services to your doorstep. 1 credit

Noro is the very first autonomous vehicle to receive an approved exemption from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These exemptions remove the requirement for safety measures such as interior mirrors, windshield and rear view camera requirements which are solely designed to provide safety benefits to occupants – these are not necessary as the vehicle contains no occupants.

Nuro was the first company to obtain a commercial deployment license from the State of California.

The company currently operates its delivery vehicles in Silicon Valley, Houston and Greater Phoenix.


Autonomous trucking is hitting the road. 1 credit

At the end of December, the truck company TuSimple became the first company to achieve fully autonomous management by a class 8 vehicle, or semi, on the open public road without human intervention. One of his semi-trailer trucks completed an 80-mile run in Arizona.

Vehicle technology is changing rapidly, making it essential to have legal frameworks and industry standards. But in a competitive market, where automakers have long promised vehicle automation, the challenges remain many. Stay tuned as we dig into them in more detail.

About Robert Pierson

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