Passport Research: Autonomous driving: Exciting technology, compelling operational gains — and the chasm in between

The enthusiasm to see self-driving vehicles — interchangeably called autonomous vehicles (AVs) — has been around for decades. Still, the technology needed to make it a reality has only begun catching up over the past decade. This is due to a fundamental difference in an AV’s construct compared to that of a conventional human-driven vehicle; unlike the latter, an AV overarchingly depends on software algorithms rather than on the body of the vehicle itself.

This has turned the autonomous driving industry into a cross-disciplinary, collaborative effort between IT powerhouses and auto manufacturers, creating a niche that appears to be an extension of the connected vehicles market. Within the AV segment, there exist different levels of automation as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), segregating functionalities ranging between Level 0 and Level 5 — with 0 being no automation and 5 meaning complete automation.

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