Why the industry is considering a leap ahead to Level 4 autonomy – Automotive News Europe

Over the past couple of years, there have been phenomenal advancements in the autonomous driving industry with an increasing number of companies looking to expand into the market.

Yet these advancements come with issues surrounding safety.

Although inconvenient, these safety complications are serious, and potentially life-threatening — especially when it comes to shared responsibility between the tech and the driver.

Level 3 autonomy poses certain challenges, several of which boil down to the transfer of control between the car and driver.

This includes issues surrounding accountability, insurance and road safety laws. Level 3 autonomy allows drivers to take back control of the vehicle when facing complex traffic arrangements.

At Level 3, the vehicle must be able to detect situations at an early stage so that the driver can be informed of, in good time, the need to take over, with reaction speeds from driver to driver likely being very different.

This issue has caused many major players in the field to consider skipping Level 3 all together, to move straight onto Level 4 and avoid the conundrum.

For the technology to support overcoming these challenges, certain advancements are necessary.

The vehicle must be able to inform the driver of a complex situation well in advance, or there is no point at all.

If the sensors don’t have the capability to predict efficiently enough, then the driver must be constantly and consistently engaged, in order to successfully gauge the risk of situations and keep themselves and other road-users safe.

The effects of these challenges can be reduced by the integration of lidar (short for light detection and ranging).

Lidar is a remote sensing measurement technology which emits and re-captures laser pulses over a broad field of view, with high frequency and precision, ultimately allowing for objects in a particular space to be reliably detected and localized.

This technology is imperative for autonomous vehicles as its operation allows for a higher level of safety — making the future of autonomous driving virtually impossible without it.

Ultimately, strong sensory perception is always central, which comes down to the correct, reliable environment recognition — only able to be done through a combination of many different sensors, including lidar.

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