Level Zero - The Toyota Tercel You Drove To School
This level is probably most of the cars you’ve driven in your lifetime. Like the infamous Toyota Tercel, my best friend drove all 8 of us guys around in high school. In level zero you are in full control of the steering, brakes, and acceleration.
Level One - Cars Made In The Past Three Years
Most cars made from around 2017 usually have some features of level one. This includes lane-assist, brake-assist, or adaptive cruise control. The vehicle has the ability to control steering, braking, and acceleration, but no two at the same time.
Level Two - Tesla Model S
This is the one you’re probably most aware of out there. This is the level that people are getting a little too comfortable with. If you own a Tesla (I do not) you know what I mean. This level requires the full attention of the driver so you could take control at any time, but the car is able to accelerate, brake, and steer on its own.
Level Three - Nothing You’ve Ridden In
This is a car that it’s legal for you to take your eyes off the road while driving -- or not driving I guess. This combines all the features of the previous level, however, the computer is more capable and able to fully navigate itself with a driver.
Level Four: High Automation
This is the closest we’ve come to that future of your minivan going off to go grocery shopping without you. Level four cars can do all the driving, but as of today, these cars can only do all the driving in the right conditions, good weather and good roads. This is what you’re hearing/seeing about in the news the most. This is what Waymo (Google), Uber, Lyft have all produced or prototyped and are testing. Again this is only level four, not five because of the conditions of good weather and good roads.
Level Five: Doesn’t Even Have a Steering Wheel
This is the future. This is the dream. The car doesn’t even have a steering wheel. The car can fully operate on its own. At this point, I wonder if we should even call it a car it’s really more of a robot than a car.