This week Gwyn is joined by Rep. Mike Kuglitsch and Rep. Jason Fields to discuss autonomous vehicles in Wisconsin. Kuglitsch and Fields were both on the Governor’s Steering Committee on Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Testing and Deployment. (Report). The three start the podcast by discussing what an autonomous vehicle is and a little about the five different levels.
Level 1 automation includes “driver assistance” features such as blind spot monitoring, emergency brake assist
and adaptive cruise control (ACC), which maintains a safe following distance by adjusting to a vehicle ahead.
These automated technologies are limited in their responsibilities and require that the human driver constantly
monitor the driving environment. There are many technologies in this category and they are increasingly
common on new vehicles.
More advanced driver assistance features offer a combination of systems that can control the throttle, braking
and steering in response to changes in the driving environment. These systems are considered partial
automation, or level 2, on the SAE scale. Commercially available vehicle models that have level 2 automation
include those equipped with Tesla’s “Autopilot” feature and the 2018 Cadillac CT6, which is equipped with GM ‘s
“Super Cruise” system.
Level 3 and above are considered highly automated vehicles (HAVs) and can monitor the driving environment in
certain situations, relieving the human driver from doing so. Examples of companies currently researching and
testing HAVs include GM, Ford, Uber Technologies, Inc. and Waymo (subsidiary of Alphabet, Inc.). Audi offers
level 3 automation to consumers in its A8 model, but not yet in the United States.
Some vehicle manufacturers, researchers, professional organizations and technology companies have
recognized a major safety concern with level 2 and/or level 3 vehicles. Specifically, because a level 2 or 3 system
cannot operate in all conditions, certain situations require that the human driver retake control of the dynamic
driving task quickly. This transfer may create an unsafe situation, and may not allow the human driver enough
time to regain situational awareness and resume the responsibility of safely operating the vehicle. Recent
crashes under partial automation in 2018, some fatal, embody this concern. This safety concern is so great that
multiple companies have decided against publicly releasing level 2 or 3 vehicles, choosing instead to eventually
offer level 4 and/or 5 to the consumer market.11
Levels 4 and 5
The terms “autonomous”, “driverless” and “self-driving” refer to a vehicle that has the capability to perform at
automation level 4 or 5. This level of automation can operate in nearly all circumstances. Certain conditions may
require that a human driver take responsibility for the dynamic driving task in a vehicle with level 4 technology.
Technology companies and vehicle manufacturers claim that the most advanced self-driving technologies will
eventually take responsibility for the all aspects of the DDT in all conditions, creating a fully autonomous vehicle
(level 5). Ultimately, a fully autonomous vehicle may be built without traditional controls for human drivers,
such as a steering wheel or brake pedal.
The conversation then moves on to discuss what the process will be for bringing autonomous vehicles to Wisconsin and for more testing.
The three finish up the podcast with information about why the Steering Committee has not yet discussed insurance issues, and why they are waiting on some federal guidelines for making Wisconsin rules.