Auto2x Automotive Consultancy

BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Tesla were the only brands already capable of Level 2 Driving and Parking in 2016-Free whitepaper

Partially-automated model availability more than doubled in 2016

The number of models offering Partially-automated driving capabilities (Level 2-D) as standard or optional equipment rose by 144.4% in 2016 to 22 models, from just 9 in 2015. Growth was primarily driven by European automakers’ strategy to expand Traffic Jam Assist (TJA) offerings across their model range.

Models with L2-D+P in 2016-17

German car manufactures hold the lion’s share in Level 2-Driving feature offerings

What is more, the number of models offering Self-Parking (SP) capabilities tripled in 2016 amounting to 6 models, whereas those equipped with Remote Parking (RP) doubled to 4. Still though, capability of both L2 driving and parking (L2-D+P) is concentrated in a handful of premium brands’ models. In detail, only 3 car manufacturers, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Tesla, offered 6 models equipped with TJA and SP as standard or optional equipment in 2016, of which only 4 also offered RP.

bmw self-driving

Some of our key findings for the availability of L2 in Europe in 2016:

  • Partially-automated model availability more than doubled in 2016
  • Audi, BMW and Mercedes are expanding their offerings of Level 2 Automated Driving across carlines but more importantly, TJA (L2) has now reached the compact car segment and volume OEMs including VW and Nissan.
  • 2017 will see the introduction of technology that allows conditional “eyes-off” the road

Regulatory, engineering and other challenges for L3-5 deployment

Autonomous Driving regulation shifts from testing to deployment but standardisation will be a challenge 2016 saw a shift in the focus of regulation from approval of L3/4 testing to discussion for reforms to enable deployment of L3 in public roads. We expect regulatory action to continue stronger in 2017 as key car markets boost their efforts to lead the AV global scene but also guarantee safe and secure deployment.

The transition from driver-centric regulation to Automated Driving Systems is necessary for the deployment of higher levels of vehicle autonomy. Amendment of international regulations as well as national traffic laws will soon give the green light for deployment but will there be regional inconsistencies?

Download our free whitepaper for more insights on ADAS&AD offerings in Europe here:

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Auto2x Automotive Consultancy

Volvo to skip Level 3 autonomous mode

Volvo is now added to the list of carmakers pulling-away from deployment of Level 3 automated driving (at least for now) with the CEO characterizing the handover of vehicle control as unsafe.

This comes a few months away from the first-ever L3-equipped car from Audi which will conditionally allow drivers to take their eyes-off the road at low speeds and perform some side tasks but requires them to always be available to takeover within a few seconds. Volvo argues that this handover of control is unsafe and will only offer (completely) unsupervised autonomous mode when it’s safe, for which it will assume full responsibility.

bmw self-driving

Debate over supervised vs unsupervised driving modes-is an intermediate one a good idea?

Earlier, Ford and Google have also expressed a similar philosophy, with the latter basing its approach on the fact that intermediate levels were subject to abuse and/or misuse. More recently, Mercedes has expressed a similar approach, at least as long as it can guarantee the “best or nothing” moto. Thus, it’s expected the updated version of its (Level 2) Drive Pilot in the upcoming flagship S-Class will also be marketed as an Assistive Level 2 system, even though its capabilities could probably support Level 3.

Another key issue is that the deployment of an immature technology for the sake of remaining competitive could have continuous disengagements thus spoiling the driving experience and ruining customer attractiveness.

This development is another demonstration of the different approaches leading car manufacturers are following to commercialize automated driving amid the engineering, regulatory and consumer adoption hurdles. The industry is currently facing a debate over supervised (L0-2) vs (optionally) unsupervised driving (L4-5) and whether an “intermediate” level (L3), where the system can monitor but drivers have to takeover in case of an emergency is safe and adds value to owners.

2017 is the year of transition from Partially-automated cars (SAE L2), where drivers are in complete control with ADAS being purely assistive for safety and convenience, to Conditionally-automated ones (L3) which can take over the driving and monitoring task under specific scenarios allowing the driver to be ‘’distracted’’

L3 driving, 070417

What’s coming up from leading carmakers

Volvo will start testing its geo-fenced L4 Intellisafe technology using real families this year in Sweden with the Drive Me project, collecting data on system performance as well as feedback of driver acceptance of what will now be an “unsupervised” driving experience.

Mercedes-Benz is also collecting data for it’s automated driving technology in a project in Australia.

Tesla’s Enhanced Autopilot, which is equipped with an augmented sensor set and Tesla Vision – the proprietary image processing after the split with Mobileye- has almost reached feature parity with the original Autopilot (L0-2) with Musk promising Self-driving capabilities within the year.

Audi is expected to launch the new A8 in Germany, where the legal framework is currently being amended to allow L3, together with certain states in the Americas where the regulatory framework allows it. The feature is expected to initially run in the background until validation and verification is completed.

It’s up to the Germans now to prove that handover of vehicle control can be done safely, intuitively, without disrupting user experience, and that drivers will exploit the conditional eyes-off the road Traffic Jam Assist offers. If the outcome is successful, this head start will be crucial and determine the approach other carmakers follow to commercialise autonomous driving. It will also provide evidence to other key car markets to amend their legal and regulatory framework to allow conditional automation.

To read more about the strategies leading carmakers follow to unlock higher levels of automated driving check our report Roadmap to Self-Driving Cars. For more information on this report, including sample pages and full Table of Contents, please contact us on (+44) (0)20 3286 4562 or using Contact us form