Before we go any further, here’s a quick primer on autonomous cars: They’re classified by levels, zero through 5. Zero and 1 are what most cars on the road are today. The driver is in control of everything, or there’s one thing controlled by the car (think cruise control). Level 2 is where most semi-autonomous cars land today. Drivers might not have to control the accelerator, brakes, or steering all the time, but they still need to be fully alert. Level 3 is when the car begins to take over most functions. Level 4 is when the car controls everything most of the time. Finally, Level 5 is the point where driver controls become irrelevant. The car is well and truly in charge.
Right now, we’re at the cusp of Level 3, and within a year or two we could be well beyond that. The cars of the future are here, and they’re self-driving. Here are 10 of the most advanced systems that will be available to drivers this year.
1. Tesla Model S
After pioneering EV technology, Tesla is the industry leader in autonomous tech. Introduced in 2014, Tesla’s autopilot is constantly being updated and uses cameras, radar, and acoustic sensors to cover 360 degrees around the car. Now in its second generation, autopilot-equipped Teslas can even change lanes by themselves. Although this is the most advanced system on the market, the company warns that drivers shouldn’t completely turn driving duties over to their cars yet. They might be close, but they aren’t fully autonomous yet.
2. Mercedes S-Class
Tesla’s autopilot gets a lot of press, but Mercedes-Benz isn’t far behind. With its Intelligence Drive system, the Mercedes S-Class can use its adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and hands-free steering to drive itself for up to 12 seconds at a time. After that, the car sternly reminds the driver to put their hands back on the wheel with a red warning light and reminder tone.