How to Talk About Au­tonomous Cars

Sharp - - CARS: CHEAT SHEET - BY MATT BUBBERS

EV­ERY­ONE’S GOT A HALF-BAKED TAKE ON

self-driv­ing cars. They’re amaz­ing! They’re dan­ger­ous! They’ll never hap­pen! The truth is, as al­ways, more nu­anced than most peo­ple un­der­stand. Here’s a be­gin­ner’s guide — so the next time you find your­self lis­ten­ing to some­one pon­tif­i­cate on the great­ness of Tesla’s self-driv­ing cars, you can in­ject some ac­tual knowl­edge into the con­ver­sa­tion.

First, know that self-driv­ing cars might be rolling out in baby steps over the com­ing decades. Like a video game, there will be lev­els. Un­der­stand­ing them will one day be just as im­por­tant as know­ing the dif­fer­ence be­tween man­ual and au­to­matic trans­mis­sions.*

Al­though it’s not yet road le­gal, the first Level 3 sys­tem — on the Audi A8 — is here now, and oth­ers are sure to fol­low be­fore the decade is out.

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