Revolutionizing transportation as we know it, autonomous vehicle technology has taken the world by storm. Companies like Tesla, Waymo, Cruise, and Mercedes come to mind when we think of independent mobility. While Tesla has earned a reputation for its advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), it’s essential to understand that there is a significant difference between ADAS and fully autonomous vehicles. For example, Tesla is considered a car with an excellent ADAS system. However, it cannot be ranked under autonomous vehicles because it still requires a human driver to always be attentive and control the car whenever required.

Differences Between ADAS and Full Autonomy

There are six levels of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), from Level 0 to Level 5, which are determined by a range of features, scenarios, and capabilities.

A Level 0 car has no intelligent systems and is controlled entirely by a human driver. A Level 1 car has just one automated control of the throttle, such as adaptive cruise control, but the driver remains responsible for steering and continuously monitors the environment. Level 2 is granted to partially automated vehicles. Many Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) across the world are providing this as mandated or additional features in their offerings. A Level 2 vehicle can steer, accelerate, and decelerate itself (primarily can drive only longitudinally but with no lateral movement like automatic lane change). It features adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping assistance. Still, the human driver must be able to take over at any time.

A Level 3 vehicle is highly automated. These vehicles perceive the 360-degree view of the car’s surroundings with multiple sets of sensors, such as cameras and radars, to make necessary driving decisions. A primary application for this level of automation is autonomous highway driving, in which the human driver does not need to monitor the road constantly but can take over if the vehicle cannot execute a specific task.

Level 4 and Level 5 are reserved for the highest levels of automation and are differentiated by operating conditions. Level 4 cars can drive autonomously without human intervention under specific road limits, like in particular cities/states (California, Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico) where Waymo runs. In contrast, Level 5 cars can theoretically drive in all operating scenarios. Right now, all driverless taxis running in the USA, like Waymo, Cruise, Zoox, etc., are Level 4 Vehicles.

The degree of human intervention and, thus, liability is critical in defining each level. If a car rated Level 3 or higher runs on autonomous mode and an accident occurs, the liability rests with the OEM.

The Complex Needs of Successful AV Software:

Every driving function, whether executed by a human driver or an autonomous system, follows a three-step process: perception, planning, and execution. The immediate environment is perceived, a decision is made based on that data, and the appropriate action is executed. This can be as simple as turning into a parking lot or as complex as avoiding a collision. A fully autonomous system must be able to evaluate a vast array of event data and environmental inputs very quickly—and all that computing power must be contained to a relatively small computing unit.

A system this sophisticated requires an advanced, adaptive software stack: High-end artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, high-performance systems-on-chips (SOCs), and cloud-based data management that can manage the massive quantities of data required for a fully autonomous vehicle to move safely through the world. It also requires a deep understanding of the complexities of transportation networks and the many systems within a motor vehicle.

At Quest Global, our expertise in AI, cloud solutions, and transportation systems make us well- suited to design complex autonomous vehicle safety systems. Our investments in AI/DL, Big Data, analytics, IoT, security, and blockchain technologies allow us to handle large volumes of data and develop high-availability platforms to deliver “data as a service.” Our cloud-based Fleet Management IoT Solution is being deployed for ~3000 UNDP Fleets across 130 countries. With strategic partnerships with Microsoft, AWS, Siemens, and Nvidia and experience in applying these technologies in ADAS, we offer unparalleled expertise to deliver autonomous driving solutions.

Autonomy is an engineering problem that aligns perfectly with Quest Global’s DNA and most significant strengths. With our unrivaled resources and expertise, we can help our customers in the transportation sector journey from assisted driving to full autonomy.

Written by Kamal Sethi

on 10 Apr 2023

Global ADAS/ Autonomous Mobility CoE Leader,

Quest Global