New Level 3 Autonomous Vehicles Hitting the Road in 2020
More level 3 autonomous vehicle models will be hitting the streets in the coming months. Japanese automaker Honda is planning to release its Legend sedan in Japan as a level 3 autonomous vehicle by mid-2020.
Level 3 Autonomous Vehicles
The Honda Legend is the company’s first foray into the sector.
According to Nikkei Asian Review, Honda has positioned the car as having partial self-driving capabilities that will allow drivers to take their hands off the wheel and their eyes off the road.
Presumably, the sedan will only allow for this level of autonomy during slow traffic on the expressway. Drivers will still be required to take control of the car during emergencies or if the vehicle does something wrong to help ensure pedestrian safety.
Audi AG is already in the Japan market with a level 3 vehicle. The Audi A8 is one of the first cars made with Level 3 autonomous technology. However, it has not been released in some areas of Japan due to legislation.
Autonomous Vehicles Coming to Seoul
Japan is not the only country looking to allow level 3 autonomous vehicles on the streets. Starting in July, South Korea will allow automakers to sell vehicles with basic Level 3 self-driving technology in the domestic market. By 2021, Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp., BMW, and Mercedes-Benz are all expected to have level 3 cars available for consumer purchase.
Levels of Autonomous Vehicles
Some companies are working to skip level 3 autonomous driving and go straight toward level 4. As opposed to level 3 where it can be difficult to discern at what point is the human user should be acting as a driver or rider, level 4 and 5 vehicles have very little, if any, human action needed.
Level 0 – Has no autonomous features. The driver is fully responsible for all operating tasks. The majority of the cars currently on the road are at this level.
Level 1 – This type of vehicle is able to do only one task autonomously, such as automatic braking, lane-keeping, or adaptive cruise control. Drivers are still expected to be fully alert behind the wheel.
Level 2 – Level 2 vehicles are capable of handling more than one task at a time, such as automatic lane-keeping and breaking or steering and acceleration.
These vehicles are not considered to have true self-driving abilities and still need human intervention.
Level 2 systems currently on the market include the Tesla Autopilot, Cadillac Super Cruise, Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot, and Volvo Pilot Assist.
Level 3 – These vehicles are able to drive from point a to point b if certain conditions are met. In the case of an emergency, drivers are expected to take control of the car. The only vehicle on the market with level 3 autonomous technology presently available to consumers is the Audi A8, although other automakers are working to develop this type of vehicle for release in 2020.
Level 4 – These vehicles are almost completely autonomous and do not require human interaction. They are constricted by location, cannot surpass certain speeds, and cannot drive in inclement weather.
Therefore, a driver or remote operator is still required to be prepared to take the wheel. However, the vehicle is capable of completing a trip with little to no driver interaction making it ideal for fixed route vehicles such as corporate campus shuttles.
No cars are currently on the market at this level for consumer purchase.
Level 5 – This is a fully self-driving car that can drive from point a to point b regardless of weather condition or speed. These vehicles do not need a driver, which allows passengers the freedom to focus on other activities such as reading or watching television. No vehicles of this level are currently available.
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Walch, Kathleen. (8 December 2019). Are All Levels Of Autonomous Vehicles Equally Safe?. Forbes.
Szymkowski, Sean. (13 December 2019). Honda self-driving technology coming next year, report says. CNet.
(24 December 2019). Honda’s new self-driving car in japan will be a game-changer claims Nikkei Asian review. Industry Global News 24.
(5 January 2020). Level 3 Autonomous Car to be Sold in S. Korea from July. Korea Biz Wire.
(6 January 2020). Honda eyes launch of level-3 autonomous vehicle in mid-2020. Japan Today.
Hyundai is latest automaker to put an autonomous car on the road
A new rideshare service is entering the market, and this one drives itself.
Hyundai unveiled its upcoming rideshare endeavor BotRide on Friday, which will be a shared, on-demand self-driving car service that will operate on public roads.
The car manufacturer, in collaboration with Pony.ai and Via, announced that a fleet of autonomous Hyundai KONA Electric SUVs will start hitting the road on Nov. 4. The ridesharing service will be free to residents of Irvine, Calif., as a part of a pilot phase that will last until Jan. 31, 2020.
The goal is to study consumer behavior in an autonomous ride-sharing environment, Christopher Chang, head of business development, strategy and technology at Hyundai Motor Company, said in a recent press release.
“We are going to learn about ecosystems, where the vehicles travel and optimize the customer experience,” Chang said. “BotRide is another example of Hyundai's ongoing efforts to actively build expertise in mobility technology as well as the company's commitment to providing more user-friendly mobility services to customers.”
Via, one of Hyundai’s collaborators on the project, is a transportation network company that is “technology enables multiple passengers headed in the same direction to seamlessly share their ride, rerouting vehicles in real-time in response to demand and traffic” while “operating in cities of all sizes, from major metropolitan centers to suburban and rural environments,” according to the company’s website.
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Self-driving car startup Pony.
ai’s technologies will allow the BotRide vehicles to safely traverse a variety of complex driving and road scenarios thanks to their latest sensor hardware, which will help to locate the self-driving car’s position in relation to surrounding vehicles as well as pedestrian traffic in densely populated areas. Pony.ai’s technology will also help to monitor the car’s surroundings and even predict the behaviors of other nearby drivers.
Customers will use the BotRide app, which is compatible for iOS and Android platforms, to hail one of the self-driving vehicles and thanks to Via’s advanced algorithms, multiple riders can share the same car. The app will direct passengers to nearby pick-up and drop-off spots, which will make for quicker riders without detours and inconvenient fixed routes.
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“Through BotRide, Hyundai is leveraging cutting-edge autonomous vehicle and mobility technologies to introduce a new, safe, and convenient form of transportation to the public,” Daniel Han, manager of Advanced Product Strategy at Hyundai, said.
“The BotRide pilot represents an important step in the deployment and eventual commercialization of a growing new mobility business.
In addition to the technology partners powering BotRide, the broader city and community ecosystem have also played an important role in making BotRide possible.
The BotRide pilot can serve as an example of how cities and companies can come together to truly enable smart cities and smart transportation systems of the future.”
Hyundai is just one of many companies throwing their hat into the self-driving car market, with Apple, Google and others testing their own versions of autonomous cars of the future.
The Apple self-driving car has been rumored for quite some time now. The tech giant had initially indicated that it was interested in manufacturing self-driving cars of their own, but have since revealed its interest lies more in the self-driving vehicle technology rather than the cars themselves.
TechRadar reports that they spotted an Apple Car back in May 2018 on a public road before it pulled off into the parking lot of the Apple office headquarters in Sunnyvale, Ca.
Apple has recently patented two self-driving car-related technologies, one for virtual reality software and the other for “intent signals.”
Google’s self-driving car division, Waymo, launched back in late 2016, but the TechRadar reports its self-driving technology has been in development since at least 2009.
Google’s self-driving vehicle has proven to be one of the most reliable driverless car currently on the market, with their self-driving cars disengaging a mere 0.
18 times for every one thousand miles (disengagement is when a human has to take over driving responsibilities for a self-driving car.) Google currently has a partnership with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to use Waymo’s artificial intelligence.
The granddaddy of all ridesharing services, Uber's driverless cars have driven over one million miles on public roads. However, their AI technology still has many a kink to work out, as Uber’s self-driving cars reportedly can only go 13 miles on average before a human must take over.
A deadly accident in Arizona last year caused the governor of that state to suspend Uber’s test drive operations there, and the rideshare giant shut down tests completely in the aftermath.
However, they do plan on resuming tests of their driverless cars in San Francisco, Toronto and Pittsburgh sometime in the near future.
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Being the cutting edge company that they are, the electric car manufacturer added an autopilot feature for its Tesla Model X, Model X and Model 3 cars.
However, Tesla’s autonomous vehicles are not completely driverless by nature, and are used more for highway driving, where Tesla's AI can preemptively perform lane shifts before reaching a desired exit or to circumvent traffic jams.
But once you leave the highway, a warning will appear to inform you to remove the autopilot feature.
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