With Audi’s AIcon and ElAIne, Level 4 autonomy will be achieved while providing personal service type features to their occupants. For those who don’t know the difference between Level 1 and Level 5 Automated driving, this scale was developed by the American standardization organization SAE.
- Level 1 – Driver Assistance: The system is able to take over either continual longitudinal or the lateral control of the vehicle. It supports the driver, who remains responsible, however, and must be ready to assume control immediately, if necessary. An example of a level 1 system of this type at Audi is the adaptive cruise control (ACC) system.
- Level 2 – Partial Automation: In certain situations, the driver can delegate continuous, combined longitudinal and lateral control of the vehicle to the system, but must monitor the system at all times and assume control as needed. The driver therefore always maintains responsibility. An example is the traffic jam assist from Audi: it assumes the tasks of braking and accelerating the car in slow-moving traffic up to 65 km/h (40.4 mph), and also takes charge of steering on better roads.
- Level 3 – Conditional Automation: The driver no longer has to continuously monitor and can carry out other activities supported by on-board equipment. The system autonomously recognizes the limit – that is, the point at which the ambient conditions no longer match the range of functions of the system. In these cases, the vehicle prompts the driver to take over the task of driving the vehicle, with several seconds advance warning. The traffic jam pilot in the new Audi A8 will satisfy these criteria.
- Level 4 – High Automation: Systems with level 4 function do not require any assistance on the part of the driver, but their function is limited to a specific area – such as on highways or in a parking garage. In these places, the driver can completely transfer the task of driving to the system. The driver only needs to resume the task when the car leaves the area defined for highly automated driving. If the driver does not react, the system assumes a safe position, e.g. pulls onto the shoulder and stops there. Robot taxis in city centers are another example of such a system. They take over the complete task of driving within a restricted speed range and on a limited route.
- Level 5 – Full Automation: The automobile assumes complete longitudinal and lateral control. Level 5 systems do not need help from the driver in any situation. Control elements like the steering wheel or pedals are not necessary here.