Are you one of the many fans of Knight Rider; the popular TV show screened in the 80s whose star was an intelligent car KITT? At the time, many young people (especially those who could not drive) dreamed of owning a KITT of their very own. The ultimate in-car robotics combined with artificial intelligence.

The initials KITT stand for Knight Industries Two Thousand, the name of a fictional computer. In the later series of Knight Rider, the computer became the Knight Industries Three Thousand, still using the same initials of course. While the car with its robotics and artificial intelligence was the main star, its human sidekick – Michael Knight – was played by David Hasselhoff.

While most fans of the show at the time dreamed of owning such a car, the majority thought in their heart of hearts that it was sheer fantasy. Nearly forty years later, however, artificial intelligence and car robotics are contriving to prove doubters wrong.

The levels of self-driven car categorisation

Self-driving cars already exist. However, it’s not as simple as that. In reality, there are five grades of driverless car standards, so what do we mean when we talk about robotics and semi-autonomous cars? First, let’s examine the five classes.

• Level 1: With driver assistance
• Level 2: With partial automation
• Level 3: Comes with conditional automation
• Level 4: With high automation
• Level 5: Utopia – full automation

If you would like a more detailed description of each of the five levels, click here

Research for the true self-driving car continues apace

Self-driving cars are in operation on some streets in some countries already. Of course, they are not yet level five grade. But the eleven top car manufacturers around the world are all in agreement that full artificial intelligence in-car robotics form is within reach. Billions of dollars are being invested in research and development in pursuit of the ultimate level five vehicle.

GM is talking about self-driving beyond 2020. Ford is looking at true self-driving by 2021. Honda envisages self-driving on motorways in 2020 – as does Toyota. Renault-Nissan is working on true self-driving cars by 2025. You can get a full rundown of the eleven manufacturers aspirations on the emerj website.

There is still some way to go in the pursuit of the truly autonomous self-driven car. But with each breakthrough in robotics and artificial intelligence, we are getting closer day by day.

Photo: Pontiac Trans Am Knight Rider by ahisgett licensed under Creative Commons 4.0