top of page

The Rise of Self-Driving Cars

Updated: Jan 28, 2022

By Adrian Muñoz

For centuries, the world has been relying heavily on cars because of their reliable transportation that makes everyone’s lives easier. That means that billions of people around the world have been learning how to drive to get their licenses so they can travel anywhere they want with their steering and brake skills. The DMVs would be packed with 16-18-year-old teenagers eagerly waiting to take and pass the driver’s test. Driving has become a necessary skill for everyone to have for a very long time… until the arrival of tomorrow.

People see movies like Transformers where vehicles drive on their own without a driver maneuvering them. This is called autopilot. Even though the movie was only a movie, it inspired several engineers to revolutionize how we drive.

There are 6 different levels of self-driving cars that take into account the scope of the car’s autopilot:

  • Level 0: The car is completely being controlled by the driver (Steering wheel, pedal, brake, etc.). As of now, this is the most common level being implemented.

  • Level 1: The vehicle has an advanced driver assistance system that can occasionally help the driver with steering or accelerating/braking, but not both at the same time.

  • Level 2: Same as level 1, but can help the driver with steering AND accelerating/braking. Despite that, the driver still needs to pay attention to his or her surroundings. Tesla autopilot is the primary example of this level.

  • Level 3: The vehicle can drive under limited conditions and the driver must be prepared to take over the steering wheel and pedal. Level 3 vehicles allow the driver to keep their hands off the steering wheel during traffic jams but need the driver to be ready to grab onto the wheel when there’s less traffic. The Mercedes Drive Pilot is one example of a level 3 vehicle.

  • Level 4: The vehicle can drive by itself in certain conditions and known roads. They may not contain a steering wheel or pedals and the driver doesn’t need to maneuver the car. Level 4 rideshare vehicles like Waymo are being tested, but not approved yet for public use.

  • Level 5: The vehicle can perform all driving functions under all conditions and the driver no longer needs to be the driver.

Although we are currently using level 2 vehicles with the rise of Tesla, it’s still thrilling to know that there are 3 more levels the society is waiting to make innovations in the future.

Works cited

Self-Driving Cars: Everything You Need to Know | Kelley ...

“Automated Vehicles for Safety.” NHTSA,

Shladover, Steven E. “' Self-Driving' Cars Begin to Emerge from a Cloud of Hype.” Scientific American, Scientific American, 25 Sept. 2021,

bottom of page