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Are there different types of autonomous vehicles?

Automated vehicles are touted as the solution to driver error, which was responsible for the 37,461 driving fatalities occurring in 2016. There are actually different levels of automation, some of which are already standard in many of the newer vehicles on the road today. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration explains the different types of automation so drivers in Texas can stay well-informed. 

A driver responsible for performing all tasks related to operating a vehicle would be at automation level 0. Some level of assistance would be automation level 1, which entails things like stability control or anti-lock brakes. Partial automation occurs at level 2. While some functions are automated, the driver must remain in control and aware of the driving environment at all times. Conditional automation is level 3. In this case, the driver does not need to monitor the environment. However, the driver must remain available to take over when needed. 

High automation entails an option to take control of the vehicle, but the vehicle is responsible for all functions. However, this only applies to certain conditions. Conversely, full automation occurs when a vehicle is capable of operating on its own under all circumstances. In this case, the driver would still have an option to take control if necessary. With full automation, people riding in vehicles are essentially passengers. 

Keep in mind, the advent of full automation is still a long way off. While many companies are working to develop these vehicles, rigorous testing must occur to ensure that vehicles are technologically capable of performing essential duties. The goal of full automation is to make roads much safer for drivers, while also reducing the economic costs associated with car accidents.  

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