Is there a difference between autonomous and automated vehicles?

Autonomous vehicles are in the news a lot these days, for both positive and negative reasons. While many people tout them as the safer alternative thanks to claims they do away with driver errors, others are concerned about their safety and who bears responsibility in the event of the crash. In order to navigate these issues, Autotrader urges motorists to know the difference between automated and autonomous vehicles.

Autonomous and automated vehicles

The phrase autonomous vehicle is a bit of a misnomer since it implies that a car would be able to make decisions of its own accord. An automated vehicle is a bit more accurate in terms of description, since it relies on human input to determine the course but is capable of navigating controls on its own. There are many different types of automated controls. For example, cruise control has been a feature of many vehicles for some time, but it’s considered an automated function. Auto braking and lane alert technology are also considered automated controls since the vehicle is using sensors to make judgments on how to proceed. 

Self-Driving vehicles

A self-driving vehicle is one that can perform many of the tasks related to driving on its own. For instance, some vehicles are able to steer themselves, while others can maintain the pace of other cars in traffic on their own. However, these vehicles require a person to be in the driver seat ready to take over when necessary.

Driverless vehicles

Conversely, a driverless vehicle is completely capable of operating on its own, as well as making decisions and judgments on how to proceed. While this technology is still burgeoning, some manufacturers have begun testing such vehicles on private courses. These cars do not require human intervention and may even be designed without pedals and steering wheels since the vehicle will operate on its own.


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