For many people, an automated vehicle means a car that's fully self-driving in all locations and all conditions, where the occupants could safely nap in the back seat if they wanted.
But there are lower levels of automation to navigate first.
Today's hands-free driving systems, such as General Motors' Super Cruise or Tesla's Autopilot, are considered Level 2 on the scale developed by SAE International. It runs from Level 0, for fully manual, to Level 5, for full-time autonomy, where vehicles might not even have a steering wheel or brake pedals.
The Level 2 systems available today require drivers to stay alert and ready to take over the driving at all times. Level 2 is the most advanced form of automated driving currently available on personally owned vehicles in the U.S. market. The more advanced Level 4 vehicles, such as the robotaxis being tested in various cities, offer full autonomy, but only in certain defined areas such as high-speed, divided highways and pre-mapped city streets.