The Levels of Autonomy from the SAE are the yardstick that is impacting the automotive industry and societal thinking largely driven by the popular media. Last week I discussed the Operation Design Domain (ODD) and how this is being misused.
The SAE’s document (Taxonomy and Definitions for Terms Related to Driving Automation Systems for On-Road More Vehicles – J3016) defines “Object and Event Detection and Response” (OEDR) and it is the razor that separates level 2 from level 3.
In level 2, the human does the OEDR and in level 3 the system (i.e. the car) does it. OEDR is defined as
Ok… so your eyes glazed over that last paragraph.
OEDR is possibly the worst acronym ever and its definition is no better - possibly because the text in brackets exceeds the rest of the content. I defy anyone to remember it in 10 minutes.
But understanding OEDR is critical if you want discussion about the SAE levels of driving automation.
I am going to come up with a different acronym and definition that will be more memorable and will clear up any confusion. My acronym is semantically identical to OEDR. I propose:
Some car manufacturers are going to great effort to ensure that the systems are not used beyond level 2. Teslas monitor that your hand is on the steering wheel at least periodically. Cadillac CT6 Super Cruise has an internal camera to track your eyes to make sure you are sufficiently engaged...
(To be clear, the Super Cruise is affected if there is direct sunlight on the camera and… wait for it… it does not work if the driver is wearing polarised sunglasses! Outrageous.)
This SAE nomenclature lumps the Cadillac CT6 Super Cruise in the same bucket as a Tesla. Does this feel right??? To even compare these platforms is to misunderstand what is under the electronic hood.
Level 3 does not have to be on for the entire journey for it to be classed as level 3. You might be limited to Game Of Thrones only on the freeway and not the arterials or vice versa. Level 3 can be limited to a specific Operational Design Domain (ODD) for the OEDR (CYWGOT)
I have been critical of the popular media throughout these articles. Just this week, the lines between level 2 and 3 have been blurred with multiple reports of Tesla drivers asleep at the wheel. Here is one of the 921,000 search results...
Ahead of our weekend BBQ talks, have a look at the following analysis of the Tesla’s system that forces you to be firmly grounded in level 2. It paints the situation in a different light...
Next week, we look at how the SAE defines the line between level 3 and 4. If things were blurry between 2 and 3, then between 3 and 4 you are going to need more than polarised sunglasses.