The six official levels of autonomous vehicles explained


Originally published at:


At level 6 the vehicle does not need humans, and can decide for itself where to go and what to do…
At Level 7 the vehicle has feelings and can be upset or angry if mistreated…


0-5 is six levels. It’s the zero that throws people off.


I’d say that, if I ever might have to be a part of the driving process, I need to be fully aware of the road all the time, making anything less than level 5 pretty useless. I want my robot car to mix me a drink and roll me a spliff when I get off work, before driving me home.


At SAE level 6, the automated system picks the music, human shuts its cakehole.


…spoken like a programmer…


[quote=“Space_Monkey, post:4, topic:96274, full:true”]
I’d say that, if I ever might have to be a part of the driving process, I need to be fully aware of the road all the time, making anything less than level 5 pretty useless.[/quote]Maybe for you, but I can definitely see the value in a self-driving car that only needs me to park or navigate parking garages. If I can say “get me to this address, and ding when we’re there”, that’s a lot of usable time to read, work, etc.


I think this is a universal problem. What we have now with level 3 systems like Tesla’s is a sort of “uncanny valley” of automated driving. Just enough to induce inattention on the part of the driver, not enough to actually make up for it.


Exactly. Well, I’d say that levels 1 and 2 can be quite useful, but levels 3 and 4 – where Teslas seem to be at – are positively misguided and dangerous.

I think there can be good arguments for (pick-n) automated parking, collision-warning systems, collision-avoidance systems (putting on the breaks automatically when the car in front suddenly stops), and gentle lane-centering (not enough to keep you on the road without steering, but enough that if you’re distracted for a moment you don’t drift out of the line).

These are all things that the driver shouldn’t ever depend on, but can make driving safer.

But the notion that a car can drive by itself 95% of the time, but the driver needs to be on-hand in case the car freaks out and needs an intelligent human decision in 0.25 seconds: that’s just absurd. Either I’m paying complete attention all the time, or don’t expect me to be able to react in time.


I actually almost ended the post with “In B4 someone says six.” As I see it, the zeroth level is not autonomous, so is not a level of autonomy. It’s like saying there are six levels of DEFCON.
And yes, zeroth is the ordinal of zero.


My first coding job was in Assembler, so it makes perfect sense to me.


Don’t call me a civilian, call me a “Zero-star General.”


At SAE level 6, the car makes small talk with the human while it’s driving to the destination. Examples include KITT from Knight Rider and the Johnny Cabs from Total Recall.


Or like someone who watched the first 0:01 of the video. It’s literally the first thing he says, “six” is vocalized before the screen in the background even finishes fading in.


It has zero autonomy. Zero apples is a number of apples, even though there are no apples involved.


Is zero apples also a number of oranges?



It is all the numbers of oranges.



And yet my “Four speed fan” has Hi*, Medium, Low, and OFF.

  • Don’t blame me, that’s how the fan reads.


At SAE Level 3, an automated system can both actually conduct some parts of the driving task and monitor the driving environment in some instances, but the human driver must be ready to take back control when the automated system requests

"Take back control **NOW**"
(immediate Crunch)
"*Your* fault, meatbag"