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Engineer Wants to Stop Autonomous Driving Mess, Explains Basic Concepts
Liza Dixon coined the expression autonowashing to refer to people and companies that make something look more autonomous than it really is. It was based on that concept that Mahmood Hikmet created a video to explain why Tesla and mainly Elon Musk are promoting that practice to dangerous levels. It was probably the controversy that that video caused – and having to face Twitter tribes about that – that led Hikmet to create a new series of videos to explain basic concepts involved with autonomous driving.

Engineer Wants to Stop Autonomous Driving Mess, Explains Basic Concepts

Mahmood Hikmet Explains Autonomous Driving Basic Concepts in YouTube SeriesMahmood Hikmet Explains Autonomous Driving Basic Concepts in YouTube SeriesMahmood Hikmet Explains Autonomous Driving Basic Concepts in YouTube SeriesMahmood Hikmet Explains Autonomous Driving Basic Concepts in YouTube SeriesMahmood Hikmet Explains Autonomous Driving Basic Concepts in YouTube Series
Hikmet’s first video explains what SAEJ3016 is. For the people that are not familiar with the SAE standard that established autonomy levels, the engineer gives viewers interesting perspectives about it in only three minutes.

Without explaining the levels one by one, Hikmet said that they have nothing to do with how sophisticated a system is. A clear example is how vacuum robots can be level 4 (operate without human intervention under specific conditions). Despite that, they are way less complex and sophisticated than passenger cars operating under Level 2.

What the SAEJ3016 really helps us to understand is the level of responsibility the human and the machine will have during the operation of the vehicle. Up to Level 2, the responsibility for driving is on the person behind the steering wheel – or yoke. When a company states a car is Level 3 or above, it is the machine that drives the vehicle. SAE has prepared a chart that explains that in a very educational way.

When any company claims to authorities that it has only a Level 2 system but tells customers the car drives itself, it is either promising its clients and investors something it cannot deliver, or evading responsibility for something it actually sells. We’re not sure whether the autonowashing concept covers both possibilities, but they look equally bad.

Hikmet then criticizes SAEJ3016 for using levels instead of classes of autonomy and numbers to classify them. That would give the impression that achieving a higher autonomy level depended on improvements, which he said is not valid. Each machine should deliver what it was designed to offer where it was conceived to work – in technical terms, its ODD (Operational Design Domain).

In a second video, the engineer explains DDT (dynamic driving tasks). According to Hikmet, it is a crucial concept to understand autonomous driving because it is the foundation of SAEJ3016.

Driving can have multiple meanings. Strategic driving concentrates on where you want to arrive. Tactical driving has to do with the actions you take to reach your destination, while operational driving relates to how you perform them.

DDT has to do with tactical and operational driving. The latter means a car is able to control lateral and longitudinal motions. In other words, that it can move to the left or right (lateral), brake, or accelerate (longitudinal) on its own. Tactical driving involves OEDR (object and event detection and response), which seems to be the core of autonomous driving nowadays. Many cars can already steer, brake, and accelerate by themselves. It is how they react to roads, road users, and situations that most AV developers are trying to figure out.

What makes Level 3, 4, and 5 genuinely autonomous is the vehicle being totally in charge of DDT – even if it may demand human intervention sometimes in Level 3 cars. As Hikmet states in his videos, understanding that will allow you to discuss the matter with more property than just by repeating what some people say about the subject.

As we’re writing, Hikmet has already added other videos to the Autonomous Vehicles 101 playlist he created. If you want to learn more about all concepts involved, check it, watch the videos below, and help increase the discussion level.

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