Timeline
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Evolution of the car.

Automation is a spectrum, and there’s a difference between automated parking assistance and never touching the steering wheel. There are a variety of vehicle driver assistance safety features that are changing the way we drive – highlighted in the interactive vehicle below. Manufacturers may use different names for their automated vehicle features, but we have tried to capture some of the most popular ones.

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Level 0: No Automation

A person is in control of every aspect of the vehicle. Some technology is there to help.

Cruise Control

Feature Introduced:
2005 - 2010

Level 0 Feature

Controls the accelerator to keep a constant speed. Driver is still in charge of braking and steering.

Lane Departure Warning

Feature Introduced:
2005 - 2010

Level 0 Feature

Sounds, vibrates or flashes when the car is drifting out of a lane. It does not control steering. Driver needs to bring the car back into the lane.

Created with Sketch.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

Feature Introduced:
2005 - 2010

Level 0 Feature

Helps drivers avoid crashes by reducing loss of control from over-steering. ESC activates individual brakes to bring the car safely back on track.

Blind Spot Warning

Feature Introduced:
2005 - 2010

Level 0 Feature

Informs drivers of vehicle(s) in their blind spots. It may not always detect motorcycles, cyclists or very fast-moving vehicles so drivers should still check manually.

Forward Collision Warning

Feature Introduced:
2005 - 2010

Level 0 Feature

Alerts driver when another vehicle is too close in front. This is a warning only; the driver must brake the vehicle to avoid a collision.

Level 1: Driver Assistance

The driver and the automated system share control of the vehicle. Driver assistance functions help with steering or braking, but a driver must be ready to retake full control at any time. Level 1 automation is available in most new cars today.

Auto Emergency Braking (AEB)

Feature Introduced:
2010 - 2015

Level 1 Feature

Senses slow or stopped traffic ahead and urgently applies brakes if the driver fails to respond to warning alerts. AEB can’t always prevent a rear end collision but may lessen the severity; cars with AEB have 50% fewer front-to-rear crashes than those without.

Lane Centering Assist

Feature Introduced:
2010 - 2015

Level 1 Feature

A proactive system that automatically keeps the car centered in its lane. May not work when lane lines are faint or covered with snow or dirt.

Lane Keeping Assistance

Feature Introduced:
2010 - 2015

Level 1 Feature

Similar to lane centering assist, except it is reactive. Comes into play once the vehicle begins to drift into another lane. May not work when lane lines are faint or covered with snow or dirt.

Adaptive Cruise Control

Feature Introduced:
2010 - 2015

Level 1 Feature

Adjusts speed to maintain a safe distance from vehicles ahead. Unlike regular cruise control, if the vehicle in front slows down, adaptive cruise control responds and automatically slows your vehicle. Models differ – some will brake to a stop if the vehicle in front brakes completely. Most will slow the vehicle but rely on the driver to bring the car to a complete stop.

Left Turn Crash

Feature Introduced:
2010 - 2015

Level 1 Feature

Monitors traffic when a driver turns left across traffic at low speeds – used primarily when turning left in a busy intersection. The car will automatically brake if it detects your vehicle is turning left into the path of another car. This feature doesn’t work at high speeds.

Level 2: Partial Automation

These vehicles support the driver with both steering and acceleration/deceleration under specific conditions. Drivers always need to pay attention to the road and have their hands on the wheel.

Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Support System

Feature Introduced:
2015 - 2020

Level 2 Feature

Automatically speeds up and slows down your vehicle to maintain a following distance relative to the car ahead. It also keeps vehicles centered in the lane. Some vehicles will brake to a stop, while most will only brake to slow down.

Created with Sketch.

Automated Lane-keeping

Feature Introduced:
2015 - 2020

Level 2 Feature

Detects lane markings and gently steers you back into your lane if you begin to drift out of it whereas lane-centering is a proactive system that always keeps the car centered in the lane. Will not work when lane lines are faded or covered with snow or dirt.

Created with Sketch.

Automatic Parallel Parking

Feature Introduced:
2015 - 2020

Level 2 Feature

Helps guide a vehicle into a parallel parking spot. As a vehicle drives alongside parallel parking spots, the car will suggest a viable option. The driver then lets the vehicle guide itself into the spot. Drivers are still responsible for braking and monitoring their environment.

Level 3: Conditional Automation

These vehicles drive themselves in some situations, but a driver is still needed in most circumstances. Some manufacturers are already working on this technology. This would include a vehicle that is capable of managing itself in select portions of travel, for example, on a freeway journey, excluding on- and off-ramps and city driving.

Traffic Jam Assistance Technologies

Feature Introduced:
2020 - 2030

Level 3 Feature

Combines acceleration, braking and steering guidance at speeds under 60 km/h in congested traffic. This feature is currently only available on European roads. Driver must always supervise the system and be ready to take control of the vehicle at any time.

Created with Sketch.

Auto Pilot Technologies

Feature Introduced:
2020 - 2030

Level 3 Feature

Guides the car from on-ramp to off-ramp by automatically making lane changes, navigating highway interchanges and proactively taking exits – at any time drivers can accept or decline the next lane change. Driver must always supervise the system and be ready to take control of the vehicle at any time.

Level 4: High Automation

These cars will be able to perform many driving tasks independently under certain conditions, but will still include driver controls such as steering wheel and gas/brake pedals; and conditions where a human takes over e.g., unmapped areas, bad weather emergencies.

Created with Sketch.

Remote Parking

Feature Introduced:
2030 - 2040

Level 4 Feature

Vehicles will have the ability to drop someone off and drive themselves automatically to an available parking space. Drivers can then order their vehicle to drive back autonomously to a pick-up area. This feature is not yet available but is being worked on by auto manufacturers.

Level 5: Full Automation

In a fully automated vehicle, everyone in the vehicle is a passenger. There will be no need to have a driver or driver controls such as a steering wheel or gas and brake pedals. Some experts believe that these cars will also be able to connect with, learn from and collecting information from other vehicles (V2V) and the infrastructure (V2I).

No Human Intervention

Feature Introduced:
2040 - 2050

Level 5 Feature

Autonomous vehicles will be able to drive in any weather or road condition without any human intervention.

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One feature may have many different names depending on the vehicle manufacturer.

Visit AAA’s Driver Assistance Technology report to find out the terminology your automobile manufacturer uses for its safety features.

View the report