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Level III Automated Technology at a Stand Still


In 2017, AUDI installed a Level III automation in their A8 sedans that allowed human drivers to relieve themselves from the boredom of stop and go traffic. Called Traffic Jam Pilot, the system was thought to be a defining moment on the road to full automation. It was the first system in production that allowed a human driver to hand over responsibility to the car itself – as long as the user remained available for back up.

The system was never enabled. AUDI envisioned that the system would function through over-the-air updates as regulatory compliance was ensured from market to market. To this day, Traffic Jam Pilot, remains dormant, and Level III automation remains a grey area for AUDI and other OEMs. The issues with Level III automation have been identified as such:

  • Pushes the boundaries: there is a delineation of responsibility. In Level II technology (as those used in Tesla’s Autopilot and GM’s Super Cruise) the human driver is clearly identified as responsible, and in Level IV the system has the responsibility. Research scientists at MIT state that not having a clear distinction brings forth a series of questions and challenges regarding liability.
  • Handover is complex: Due to the liability within a handover, all situations require handling a safe stop. Systems still have a long way to go in measuring the cognitive awareness of a driver.
  • Expensive and limited: while the technology is advanced, OEM’s must take end users into account. The expense along with limited use makes it difficult to catch on with consumers.

When combining consumer acceptance with cost, regulations and the tricky nature of control exchanges between driver and vehicle, Level III automation still has a long way to go. Read more here.

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