Today, a majority of Americans are afraid of autonomous cars. That loss of control is genuinely worrying to most people — and with good cause. The technology still isn’t there, and more often than not what we hear about self-driving cars are crashes and other problems. In short, it still seems like a long way off.
But that’s changing whether we like it or not. Automakers are already well on the way to developing fully realized self-driving cars. In fact, a number of models on the road today can practically drive themselves. If you’ve bought a luxury car in the past year, chances are your car has some of these features standard. You just might not know how they work.
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.
Next: This old world luxury brand is leading the way.