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What qualifies as an autonomous vehicle?

If you are like a lot of people in Missouri, you may have a lot of questions about self-driving cars. Are they really safe? Can they really eliminate traffic accidents as touted? What really classifies as a self-driving car? This latter question is one that confuses a lot of people. The answer to it is that there really is no single definition of a self-driving car. Instead, as Techopedia reports, there are multiple levels of autonomy in vehicle technology.

The Society of Automotive Engineers identified a six-level system to rate autonomous capabilities in vehicles with a level zero including no such capabilities at all and a level five being a fully autonomous vehicle with no human interaction at all beyond simply dictating the location of a desired destination. Level one vehicles are common today with driver assistance features like adaptive cruise control.

A level four vehicle is capable of completely autonomous operation but allows a human driver to take over. Level three vehicles are able to be autonomous but only in controlled situations like on surface streets. These vehicles are unlikely to operate on highways unless actively driven by a human. Level two vehicles include at least two driver assistance features that work together like automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. 

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is instead meant to give residents in Missouri an overview of the many levels of autonomy identified in relation to self-driving vehicles and the technologies that make them possible.

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