Exploring The World of Autonomous Driving With Nissan

June 9th, 2021 by

2021 Nissan Autonomous Johnsisson

Photo credit: Nissan

Nissan was one of the first to start moving into electric vehicles with the Leaf, almost a decade later the world is talking about fully autonomous vehicles, something many foresee will be the new way of the future. Researchers calculate that by 2025 roughly eight million autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles will be on the road. Nissan is currently focused on its goal of reaching a complete carbon-neutral state and its all-new fully electric SUV the 2022 Nissan Ariya, with that comes many other changes to help contribute to that goal. Now, before autonomous vehicles can merge onto roadways, they will have to advance through 5 levels of driver assistance technology advancements. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) outlines the 6 levels of driving automation ranging from 0 ( fully manual) to level 5 (fully autonomous). The U.S. Department of Transportation has fostered these levels into their program now too. What exactly are the distinctions between the levels? Let’s break them down and truly understand what each level is capable of.

The levels of autonomous driving begin with level 0 which has no driving automation, most vehicles on the road are level 0. The person inside the vehicle provides the “driving task”, depending on what vehicle some systems may be in place to help the driver with the minimum assistance. Emergency braking would be the ideal example of how the driver is still in full control. Moving forward, Level 1 comes with the lowest level of automation, the vehicle will feature a single automated system for driver assistance like cruise control. Adaptive cruise control also qualifies as level one even though the vehicle can be kept a safe distance behind the next car with the driver monitoring steering and braking.

Now, moving into Level 2 autonomous driving that involves partial driving automation, indicating an advanced driver assistance system or ADAS is incorporated. The principal focus is how much the driver needs to monitor the system, Level 2 also includes driving features such as parking and negotiating stop-and-go traffic. A step further from Level 2 to Level 3 begins to change the level of autonomous driving. While Level 2 is more about assistance systems, Level 3 allows the car to drive autonomously under specified conditions. Level 3 enters the world of highly automated driving, allowing drivers to completely remove their hands off the wheel. Level 3 mostly pertains to highway autonomous driving, once the vehicle is ready to exit, it will relinquish control to the driver.

While most new vehicles offer Level 3 conditional driving automation, the next step following is fully automated Level 4 vehicles. Level 4 allows the vehicle to control complete trips on highways as well as in city traffic. The main difference between Level 3 and Level 4 automation is that Level 4 systems can intervene and take control in any case of emergency or the event of a system failure. So technically, these vehicles don’t necessarily require a human driver, but regardless a driver has the option to manually override. Level 4 can operate in self-driving mode but can only operate within a limited area due to legislation. NAVYA, a French company, has already begun to build and sell Level 4 shuttles and cabs in the U.S. that are fully electric and reach up to 55 mph. 

Arriving at Level 5 Full Driving Automation, the actual autonomous driving that doesn’t require any driving ability nor a driving license to use the vehicle. In Level 5 the driver converts to a pure passenger, it can also be the fact that fully autonomous vehicles don’t have a steering wheel nor pedals that are capable of driving independently. Level 5 was not intended for passengers to interfere, Level 5 is free from geofencing, meaning it is free to go anywhere and do anything an experienced driver can do. Level 5 works primarily off of a pickup location and drop-off destination. The benefits from Level 5 create a whole new world of opportunity, tremendous advantages for people without a license, senior citizens, and people with disabilities that might hold them back from driving can finally feel free. 

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