Science fiction has brought us the mobile phone via Star Trek, new visualizations of black holes via Interstellar, robots on the moon and Mars via Lost in Space, and other societal advancements too numerous to count. But one future those sci-fi epics have yet to deliver on are self-driving cars.
Self-driving cars have been promised by fiction and automakers alike for decades upon decades, yet, here we are and they’re still not here. What gives? To help you better understand why you can’t buy a self-driving car today, Car Bibles’ future-forward editors put together this helpful guide on all things self-driving.
Can I Buy a Self-Driving Car?
Despite what you’ve heard, no, you cannot. True self-driving cars are still very much only available in science fiction. For now, we have automated systems that require the driver to remain in control of the automobile.
What Is a Self-Driving Car?
A true self-driving car is one that no longer requires a human driver to intervene at all in the driving process. That means no gas, brake, or steering inputs at any point throughout the drive. You just sit there, relax, and do a little work or get some more shut-eye. Think of self-driving as public transportation but only for you, your family, your friends, and pets.
What Is Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD?
Tesla’s Autopilot is a Level 2 automated system that can brake, accelerate, and keep your car inside the highway’s lanes with little intervention from the driver. The driver still needs to be fully attentive when using it. It isn’t self-driving, despite what its name suggests.
FSD stands for Full Self-Driving but isn’t actually a fully self-driving system. Currently, in its beta form, the system still requires a driver’s inputs to make your destination safely. It has enhanced functionality, including lane-changing, compared to Autopilot.
What’s the Difference Between Level 2 and Level 5 Self-Driving?
Car autonomy can be broken down into 5 levels. The most commonly talked about levels, however, are Level 2 and Level 5, and those are the ones we’ll focus on today.
According to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), Level 2 is though the driver is engaged and participant in driving, there are some automated systems like adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist. Tesla’s Autopilot and Mercedes-Benz’s ProPilot Assist are examples of Level 2 automation.
Level 5 is fully autonomous. At this stage, a driver just inputs a destination, and the car does all the work. This is still a theoretical level, as NO COMPANY has been able to bring about a Level 5 system outside of computer models.
There have been multiple deaths associated with Tesla’s Autopilot in that people think it’s fully autonomous when it isn’t. Likewise, self-driving startups have also seen deaths, including one pedestrian in Arizona.
Car Bible’s Glossary for Self-Driving Cars
Welcome to Bible school!
FSD is a Tesla marketing term that describes the company’s automated driver-assist systems. It costs consumers $10,000.
Automated systems are those handled by a computer while the car remains observed and controlled by a human. They aren’t autonomous.
When they finally do exist in the future, an autonomous vehicle uses driving systems that are completely independent and self-governing and are not controlled in any way by a human.
Lane-keep assist is an automated system that helps you stay between a highway’s lines.
A trolley problem is a logic problem that many in the autonomous vehicle industry believe is necessary for an autonomous car to function. It essentially boils down to whether or not your car’s artificial makes the decision to kill one person or five. It isn’t necessary, nor does it actually work in reality.
The Car Bibles Questionnaire
Car Bibles answers all your burning questions!
Q. What Year Will Self-Driving Cars Come Out?
A. No one is actually sure, despite “expert” soothsaying.
Q. Can I Buy a Self-Driving Car?
A. As answered above, no.
Q. How Do I Know If My Tesla Is Autonomous?
A. Easy, it isn’t. No Tesla is autonomous.
Video on Self-Driving Cars
Car Bibles’ editors understand that not everyone is a text-based learner. For those kinesthetic people out there, we have your back with a video showing you exactly how self-driving cars are supposed to work. We pulled it from one of our favorite, and most trusted, sources and it’s a great additional resource.
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