ITS-UK develops new A-F scale to explain levels of vehicle connectivity


The UK’s Intelligent Transport Society (ITS-UK) has developed an A-F ‘Scale of connections for cooperation of connected vehicles’, to mirror the SAE’s 0-5 levels of vehicular autonomy.

Developed by ITS-UK’s Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAV) Forum and supported by the Department for Transport (DfT) and Highways England (HE), the new scale shows that connection and cooperation between existing and future vehicles and roads is very different from automation. ITS-UK says the new scale of connections explains to non-technical readers what services they might expect from a new vehicle or smartphone, and highlights that work is still needed to make roads ready for connectivity, even if vehicles and communications systems are ready for widespread deployment.

The CAV Forum notes that the new A-F scale has deliberately not focused on technology, but instead reflects the ‘HD ready’ approach that was used for digital TV switch-over to help users understand what would be possible without needing to understand the detail. The scale uses letters instead of the numbers that are used in the SAE scale because it is customer/consumer-focused; a service only reaches that level when it is widely available, such as when an app is published, rather than when a demonstration or research project shows that it is working.

“The SAE level is very simple to understand, but has nuances, and so will this scale. It also starts in the real world of minimum connectivity with Level A and level B to capture every vehicle today, but then looks at short-term connectivity and opportunity, rather than long-term automation,” explained Andy Graham, chair of ITS-UK’s CAV Forum. “It will be reviewed periodically to take account of the rapidly changing landscape. For example, when V2I and V2V plans mature, level E may be split further, but currently there are different views regarding V2V and V2I timing.”

Graham continued, “Currently all vehicles are at Level A, and with a smartphone can get to C. Level D would take the services many of us work on today in research and demonstrations, and make them more widely available and used, as the first step ‘Connected roads ready’ allied to existing communications and vehicles. All new vehicles today with connections to head units would be Level D, but the roads and communications are not yet at the level. This reflects HD TV roll-out when HD TVs became available before HD programs. Level E vehicles are not yet available, but maybe soon.”

ITS-UK’s secretary general, Jennie Martin, added, “Having a standard scale to explain vehicle connectivity that is as easily understandable as the SAE automation scale is a brilliant idea that will really help people understand where we are with connectivity and how much more can be done. Our CAV Forum has worked hard on agreeing the scale and it underlines again how ITS-UK is a real thought-leader across the transport technology industry.”

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Adam joined the company in 1994, and has been News Editor of TTT since 2009. In his other role as Circulation Manager, he helped create the original Traffic Technology International distribution list 23 years ago, and has been working on it ever since. Outside of work, he is a keen fisherman, runs a drumming band, and plays an ancient version of cricket.