Regardless of a person's views on self-driving vehicles, it is important to have a basic understanding of how these cars operate as they are becoming more prevalent today. Connecticut drivers may actually be surprised that even the vehicles they buy today but do not consider to be self-driving still feature many self-driving functions and technologies.
As explained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are six distinct and identifiable levels of vehicle automation. Level zero has no automation whatsoever and level five is a completely autonomous vehicle that can be operated without a human ready or able to take control. A level one vehicle might have a feature like cruise control and a level two vehicle might have lane departure warnings, forward collision braking or lane keep assistance features yet still requires a person to operate it full-time.
A level three vehicle is capable of operating autonomously but requires a person to be in the driver's seat and able to assume control at any time. Level four vehicles can drive on their own and do not require anytime human interception of driving control.
Some of the technologies in autonomous vehicles include laser systems that detect motion, speed and object size; mapping technologies to identify locations and artificial intelligence that allows a computer system to learn from the experiences it encounters on the streets. Testing these vehicles is important yet remains a challenge, especially in the wake of last year's fatal accidents as many municipalities are hesitant to approve such activities.