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Automated Driving

Five things worth knowing about automated vehicles

Before you go ahead and ignore your license renewal reminder, trade your car for cash, or tell your mechanic what you really think of him, here are a few things to know about the impending age of automated vehicles.

As we make our way through what may possibly be the last decade of vehicular life as we know it, there is (understandably) a lot of talk around automated vehicles: When are they coming? Can they be trusted? What are they going to look like? But what if I don’t wanna?! We spoke with our Product Marketing Manager for Highly Automated Driving, Matt Preyss, to get his top five insights on what automation means to everyday travelers trying to navigate their way through the jargon and predictions.


1. There are six levels of automation

While many of us default directly to envisioning an unmanned Uber showing up at our door, we’ve got a few stages to get through before we’re there (though, of course, that’s the ultimate goal). There are six levels of automation: 0 to 5. Of course, Level 0 means no automation, 1 and 2 we’re already driving, 3 and 4 are semi-automated, and Level 5 is full automation where you can sit back and let the car take the wheel… or whatever that saying will become since a Level 5 car won’t need a wheel.

2. First fleet of semi-automated cars is due by 2020

In just a few short years, the first Level 3 and 4 semi-automated vehicles will be coming to a road near you – but don’t be surprised if you see empty cars in their testing phase zipping around before then. Though the car won’t look too different from what we already know, and we won’t be snoozing in the back seat just yet, for the most part, these vehicles have you covered thanks to sensor technology and advanced mapping systems like our HERE HD Live Map. Along your journey, they’ll let you know when they need you for things like getting on to freeways and more difficult parking tasks (so don’t give up on trying to be your best reverse parking self just yet).

3. How it all goes depends on how it all goes, really

That might sound confusing, but any forecasting beyond first launch will depend on how things shake out with the first release models. There will be learning curves, legislation, and trust to build with some, so beyond 2020, the pace at which autonomous vehicles make their way into our lives remains to be seen.

4. As our cars change, cities will change with them

Just as roads were updated as the world progressed from horse and carriage to combustion engine vehicles, the same goes as we move on to automated vehicles. We’re set to see North America, Germany, China and Singapore debut the first cars of their kind, and these countries are assessing and progressing infrastructure and technology in preparation. This includes things like laying fiber optic cables for vehicle connectivity, and hypothesizing on changes to signage, road width, and traffic lights.

5. Tech companies are working to minimize the ‘junk in the trunk’

Automated vehicles need space to store all the information they process. For example, a human takes in about 4GB of data each day. Multiply that by 1000 and that’s around the amount of data an automated vehicle absorbs. For now, this information is stored within a computer in the trunk of the car. Compressing the current algorithm, creating efficient software, and improving processing capabilities are currently some of the biggest hurdles manufacturers are working on jumping as they create their vehicles. Because, although our cars might be changing, we’ll still need a place to put our luggage and beach umbrellas, right? Right.

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