How Does a Self-Driving Car Work?


While we’re getting closer and closer to fully self-driving cars, they’re still in testing and are not currently allowed on US roads. However partially self-driving cars, such as Tesla Model 3 and the Volvo XC40, will be released onto the roads in some countries in 2023, with fully self-driving cars being rolled out in 2025. But how exactly do self-driving cars work?

The features

‌There are many features that partially self-driving cars can now have. Each feature has the car take over some driving tasks, reducing the risk of human error and making the roads safer. Let’s take a look at the features on offer.

  • Adaptive Cruise Control – This allows you to program a set distance between you and the car in front. So your car increases speed when the vehicle in front speeds up and reduces speed when the car in front slows down.
  • Hands-Free Steering – Some of the advanced models will take over steering on the roads. This technology is most commonly used when parking, but an increasing number of cars are bringing it to everyday road use.
  • Lane-Centreing Steering – This technology ensures that you stay in your lane whilst driving on the motorway. If you drift to the left or right, it will steer you back into your lane.

The technology

In today’s world, technology infiltrates every aspect of our lives, from the online games we play like Platin Casino slots, to the grocery shopping we do online and the cars we drive! Each car will use a different technology, depending on the features they offer. A camera is the most common technology in a self-driving car. These cameras tell the computer where the car is on the road, allowing it to steer back into the middle of the lane if it starts to drift or helps automatically park a car.

Another vital tech in the more advanced self-driving cars is an in-built GPS. This tells the car exactly where it is on the road, allowing it to drive you from place to place without human input. 

The levels of autonomy in self-driving cars 

‌There are six different levels of autonomy that every car on the road falls under. Self-driving car companies aim to get their vehicle to the highest level possible. Let’s take a look at what those levels are.

  • Level 0 – A human driver performs all tasks.
  • Level 1 – A human driver performs most tasks, but the car controls one task, such as cruise control.
  • Level 2 – The car starts to handle more features, such as lane assist and automatic braking, but the driver needs to be aware of their surroundings.
  • Level 3 – The car covers nearly all aspects of driving, but only in certain situations, such as on a motorway.
  • Level 4 – The car can drive itself without needing input from a human driver, but a human must be on board in case of emergencies.
  • Level 5 – The car can drive in all situations without human input. These types of cars would not need a steering wheel or pedals.


While we’re still not at the level of fully autonomous self-driving cars, we’re getting closer. Many car companies are developing self-driving technology, and we’re only a couple of years away from fully self-driving cars in the UK.

John Smith
John Smith
Editor at and all round Motorsport journalist specialising in Formula 1, IndyCar and Formula E.
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