Whether or not progress has halted at level 3, this stage of development, where automated driving can occur for short periods of time, has been a point of discussion recently. Vitally, the system behind level 3 automation needs to be able to recognise its own limits and notify a human driver to resume control in time. That poses a huge challenge which is proving difficult to overcome.
Last year Audi claimed that the A8 would become the first level 3 autonomous car in the world, but was never able to realise this goal as liability and regulation issues across Europe meant it was eventually released with just level two autonomy. Honda, however, are now set to be the first to mass produce cars with this level of autonomous capability. Before the end of March 2021, they plan to launch sales of a Honda Legend equipped with level 3 automated driving equipment.
Despite this pending success, the topic remains controversial for many. Some think that level 3 is merely a step in the road to level 5 and ultimately can, and will, be crossed as technology improves. Others believe it is more significant because, as the definite midpoint in driverless tech, it has huge potential for mass production and could be key to overcoming technological, logistical and legal problems.
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Xu Tao says that Continental overcomes this with a global autonomous driving research and development structure, with local teams in Germany, the United States, China, Japan and other regions for localised development and collaboration. On the premise of focusing on the core technology of autonomous driving, Continental will also focus on some special regional requirements, and integrate these special requirements into the global development and co-operation system. It’s not only regulation which is at fault for the bottleneck at level 3, Xu Tao explains that safety, as ever, is also at the center of consideration.