Five Steps to Automated Driving

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Carmakers envision a five-step process to transform today's drive-it-yourself cars into vehicles that can automatically take you just about anywhere, notes Carsten Haas, engineering manager for integrated active and passive safety technologies at TRW Automotive.

Step-one cars warn you if you wander out of your lane, and they have cruise control systems that can adjust speed automatically if the vehicle in front slows down. Level-two cars automatically brake to mitigate a crash or steer around an object in an emergency. At the third level, cars can accelerate and brake automatically within their lane in routine stop-and-go traffic. But like levels one and two, the driver is expected to pay attention at all times, Haas says.

Fourth-level cars can drive automatically on highways, allowing the operator to look away for short periods. At the fifth level, the car is able to safely drive itself in almost any setting, including busy urban areas.

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