Mercedez-Benz is the first automotive company to obtain a Level 3 certificate of conformity for autonomous vehicles in the United States And it has surpassed Tesla with its misleading term Autopilot
Mercedez-Benz is now the first automotive company to obtain a level 3 certificate of conformity for autonomous vehicles. The news fueled the debate on the possibility of reaching the level of fully autonomous vehicles, meaning vehicles that do not require a driver or supervision. distance. It is a controversy over advances in artificial intelligence applied to the vehicle that manufacturers such as Tesla are fueling the problem with misleading terms such as Autopilot.
This milestone marks Mercedes-Benz’s revolutionary DRIVE PILOT system as the first and only Level 3 system in a production vehicle allowed to operate on US public highways.
Autonomy of vehicles is defined according to levels:
- Level 0: the motorist remains in control;
- Level 1: the computer can intervene to manage the speed or the direction (cruise control, safety distance alert) but the driver maintains control of the vehicle;
- Level 2: the car can be temporarily driven, for example by parking itself (park assist). The driver remains responsible for driving;
- Level 3: the driver can delegate driving to the computer in certain situations such as traffic jams. The Volvo XC 90’s traffic jam function perfectly illustrates this level. The computer can also tell the driver when to take control of the vehicle;
- Level 4: the driver is no longer needed in some predefined cases; the vehicle drops off its driver, parks itself and returns to pick up its owner;
- Level 5: the car is fully autonomous and controls all vehicle functions. The driver may or may not be present.
The news reignites the debate about the prospect of achieving Level 5 autonomy. Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise, says that even a few decades from now you won’t get 100% autonomous vehicles. The latter believes that distant assistance will remain for a long time. However, despite the warnings, many people consider partially autonomous vehicles to be fully autonomous. The fault in many cases lies in the commercial policy of some manufacturers. Tesla, for example, uses the term Autopilot for a driver assistance system classified as level 2.
The truth in this terminology is likely to mislead drivers about the true capabilities of the system. A survey by the Insurance Institute for Road Safety provides important data for this debate. The group asked drivers about the capabilities of five advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). They only identified products by their brand: Autopilot (used by Tesla), Traffic Jam Assist (Audi and Acura), Super Cruise (Cadillac), Driving Assistant Plus (BMW) and ProPilot Assist (Nissan). Respondents did not know which manufacturer made each product and did not know its capabilities. There were 2,000 respondents in total, but each was only asked about two of the five systems, yielding several hundred responses for each product.
For each ADAS system, drivers were asked about the safety of various activities that are not recommended by car manufacturers (from taking your hands off the wheel to dozing off while driving). More participants felt that doing each of these actions was not harmful with Autopilot enabled than with any of the other four ADAS systems.
For example, 48% of respondents said it’s safe for a driver to take their hands off the wheel when Autopilot is on, compared to about 33% for ProPilot Assist and less than 30% for other named systems. Six percent of drivers said it was safe to sleep in a car with Autopilot enabled, while only three percent said the same for other ADAS systems.
These behaviors caused by the advertising policy of certain manufacturers are likely to explain the accidents involving these so-called autonomous vehicles. In numbers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has investigated 35 crashes since 2016 and found that Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” or “Autopilot” system was used in 16 cases.
What do you think of the advances in artificial intelligence applied to the car?
Will the level of 100% autonomous vehicles be reached?
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