Different levels of ADAS
Typically, there are six levels, Level 0 to Level 5, says an ADAS expert. All the cars primarily at this point in time are Level 0, they are driven by the drivers, they don’t have anything mainly associated with them. Possibly, some people will have some kind of warnings mentioned, for example, if there is a car in front of you and is getting nearer to you, it will issue a warning by beeping or if the driver falls asleep while driving, then also, it will issue a warning So, there is not action taken but it is a warning system. Another example is CC (Cruise Control), in this mode car will move at set speed.
Level 1 talks about ‘Assisted’ and Level 2 talks about ‘Partially Automated’. In the case of Level 1, your eyes, hands and mind are on the vehicle. In Level 1 assistance comes from high-end technologies, for example, with a feature like ‘Emergency Brake Assist’ – EBA, the car stops if it finds another car getting dangerously close to it so as to cause an accident. So the car has taken some action based on a threat which may either be a pedestrian or another car which has come in front of it breaching the safety limits. Another popular example is ACC (Adaptive cruise control), in this mode car will move at set speed but will adapt its speed based on the vehicle in front. So in Level 1, you have the control of braking and acceleration or throttle.
In the case of Level 2 your eyes, hands and mind are on the vehicle. Level 2 is called as ‘Partially automated’ and it comes with enhanced features like ‘Lane Keeping Assistance – LKA, which ensures that the car is in the center of the lane and not deviating left to right and causing an accident. Another feature is the ‘Blind Zone detection’, if any car comes from right or left and our car tries to take a right or left turn then a warning is issued about the potential threat. The steering has to be in the center location and the algorithms are controlling the steering. So, there is another level added, it was throttle and brake in Level 1 and the steering is added to it in the Level 2. This is partially automated system. Point to note customers driving Level-2 technology cars need to be attentive all the time and keeps their hands on the steering.
Two major sensors used up to Level 2 are cameras and radars. Cameras and Radars work like our eyes. Cameras see road ahead and are used to detect the different road occupants like cars, trucks, bikes, pedestrians, animals, traffic signs, traffic lights etc. Radars on other hand gives the precise distance and speed of these objects.
In India, we have two major players offering this technology specially adapted to Indian road conditions. Both cars are offering upto ADAS level-2 features. One of the most advance feature of this car is the ‘Stop and Go’ feature whereby the car stops and accelerates automatically, it is an extension of Adaptive cruise control. Whenever you are on the highway, and you engage Stop and Go feature then the car will stop and accelerate based on other objects which are in its path. It will also go to a complete standstill and then move from there.
In Level 3 cars, your eyes and mind are on the vehicle, where as your hands are off, where as in higher levels like autonomous level 4, the mind is also off. Once you give the control to the car, the car will make sure it will run autonomously but in certain driving scenarios (like on highways, the car will drive its own).
In the case of Level 4, the car will run on its own in majority of the scenarios and in the case of Level 5, the car will completely run on its own. So in Level 4 and 5, drivers are not required. There are examples already known as Robo taxi. In China, Baidu is the first Robo taxi going to be launched this year and they already have a license. In the US, Waymo and Cruise are running multiple cars as Robo taxis at Level 4 and Level 5. They have licenses to run them in one or two states in the US.
Looking at the industry Level 3 would be where all the passenger cars would move and Level 4 and Level 5 will be primarily for the taxis or Robo taxis.
In Level 3, right now the only passenger car in the world is Mercedes which was launched this year and on the highways the entire control is with the car. Whenever the car is not able to control it gives the control back to the driver saying that it is not able to control the car in the prevailing condition. So the driver is still required but the driver can take his hands off from the driving. So that is how Level 2 and Level 3 differentiates.
In India, we are already seeing the market moving towards Level 2 and what I see is in the future in the span of next couple of years, majority of the car players will bring Level 2 offerings. Even if car players are not willing, they will be forced by the market to bring in order to stay competitive particularly in the premium mid range SUV/ Sedan’s segment. Eventually in next three to four years it will reach a stage where economical cars have this technology because at the end of the day this technology is not that costly. What is put up in this technology is nothing but a set of few intelligent sensors.