Automated driving is a bit more complicated than most people believe. In fact, SAE International, a U.S-based association that develops standards regarding transportation and automation, has come up with different “levels” of automated driving. Each of these levels correlates to a different user experience but also new policies and mentalities regarding security and privacy. Today, we want to explain what those five levels actually are and how they may change how we view checkpoint security.
Level 1: Hands On
This is a level we already see in our everyday lives and includes technologies like Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Assistance, or Parking Assistance. These bits of tech don’t fundamentally change how we drive, instead acting as a complement to what we already do and automates the little things like maintaining your speed. We’ve already hit this step and it hasn’t had any huge changes in how we view vehicle-related security matters.
Level 2: Hands Off
This level of automation takes full control of the vehicle—from acceleration, to braking, to steering. However, the driver must still monitor the driving and be prepared to intervene at any time. While it may be titled “hands off,” this isn’t literal: constant contact between your hands and the steering wheel is often still mandatory during SAE 2 driving, in the instance that a driver needs to intervene. Again, this still asserts that the driver is responsible for anything the vehicle were to do, meaning no real security implications.
Level 3: Eyes Off
Eyes off driving, on the other hand, is literal. The driver can turn their attention away to text, watch a movie, or apply makeup. The vehicle handles all emergency intervention scenarios such as braking. In this instance, we’re likely to see a heavier reliance on technologies like intelligent license plate readers, as those can be effectively used to establish who is responsible for a vehicle in the event of security concerns. Since the driver now has to pay far less attention to their environment, it creates a need for more and more automated road security systems.
Level 4: Mind Off
This is an even stronger level of automated driving where the occupant of the vehicle may safely to go to sleep or leave the driver’s seat. In the event that we see this technology, it makes something like a driver camera—currently one of the most effective methods of securing road vehicles—less reliable, and instead we’ll need to turn to technologies that work with this level of automation in mind. We’ve already seen vehicles claiming to have met the requirements for level 3 vehicle automation, but none have hit level 4 yet.
Level 5: Steering Wheel Optional
This level encompasses complete automation that we tend to think of when we think about science fiction automated vehicles, like a robotic taxi. The benefits of technology like this are obvious and plentiful, but so too are the security issues it creates. Intelligent security systems will be at the forefront of keeping passengers safe and will become a necessity in every parking facility, checkpoint, or otherwise vulnerable roadway.
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