The 6 terms you need to know to understand self-driving cars

For Levels 3-5, the person sitting in the driver’s seat is not driving the car—the automated system is, if it is engaged. But this can be tricky. Phillip Koopman, an electrical engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University, points out on his autonomous vehicle blog that a vehicle’s Level 3 system may not notify the driver when human intervention is needed, as we’ve already seen from videos of people wrenching steering control from Tesla’s ostensibly Level-2 Full Self Driving beta system when it attempts to steer the car into danger.

This is why, Koopman adds, that the driver in vehicles with Level 3 systems activated cannot perform non-driving activities, such as napping or watching a video. “J3016 does not say that Level 3 means ‘eyes off road’ anywhere,” he emphasizes.