The world of driverless cars is quickly developing its own vocabulary. This industry-specific glossary provides brief definitions for these words, terms and acronyms.


Active / Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) systems use laser or radar to match the speed of the vehicle ahead without any input from the driver.

Adaptive Headlights increase safety by shedding more light on the road ahead e.g. by shining around corners and over hills

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) aim to minimise human error by alerting the driver to problems or actively taking control of the vehicle.

Automated / Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems use laser or radar to identify potential crash situations and apply the brakes if necessary.

Automated lane keeping systems (ALKS) – Using radar/lidar/cameras combined with AI to intervene in the steering to prevent drifting out of lane without intervention from the driver.

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) – another name for driverless cars or trucks.

Autopilot is Tesla’s ADAS with autonomous features including self-parking and car summoning.


Blind Spot Alert (BSA) / Monitoring (BSM) systems detect vehicles alongside and issue a visual or audible warning.

Blockchain / Block Chain cryptography was developed for the digital currency, Bitcoin. Automotive uses include telematics and fleet management.


CAM stands for connected and automated mobility.

CASE stands for connected, autonomous, safe / shared and electric vehicles.

CAV stands for connected and automated vehicles.

Cellular V2X (C-V2X) is a 5G-based technology enabling direct communications between vehicles and other road users, a rival to Dedicated Short Range Communication.

Collision Avoidance Systems (CASs), also known as pre-crash or collision mitigation, are designed to prevent or reduce the severity of road accidents.

A Connected Car is one with internet access, which allows it to send and receive data and connect to other enabled devices e.g. smartphones.

Cornering Brake Control (CBC) systems detect oversteer, understeer or drifting while cornering and redistribute brake pressure to help the driver regain control.

Cybersecurity is the protection of computer systems (increasingly internet-connected systems) from attack.


Data Governance (DG) involves the management, availability, integrity and security of data.

Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRC) is a wireless technology enabling direct communications between vehicles and other road users, a rival to C-V2X.

Delivery Robots / Drones are driverless vehicles which carry only goods, not passengers. Trialled by Amazon as early as 2016.

Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) describe the problem if a car develops a fault. They are logged in the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) and help guide the repair.

Digital Infrastructure can refer to vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-network (V2N) and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications.


Edge Computing describes where data is processed – on the device itself or a local server, rather than a distant centre.

Embedded Intelligence refers to the ability of a vehicle to analyse its own operations.

Evasive Steering Assist (ESA) systems help the driver to steer round an obstacle if a collision cannot be avoided by braking alone.


Fast-charging or DC charging can give an electric vehicle an 80% charge in around 20 minutes, as opposed to slower AC charging.


Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSSs) are satnavs with global coverage e.g. Europe’s Galileo, USA’s NAVSTAR, Russia’s GLONASS and China’s BeiDou.


Head-up Displays (HUDs) beam key information such as speed or directions onto the windscreen, directly in the driver’s line of sight.

Hill Hold Control (HHC) systems prevent vehicles from rolling back down a hill when the brake pedal is released.


In-vehicle Data is the subject of draft European Commission (EC) legislation to give consumers choice over who has access to it and for what purpose.

Intelligent Mobility describes the drive for efficiency in transporting people and goods.

Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) uses sign-recognition and/or GPS data to advise drivers of the speed limit and automatically brake if required.

Internet of Things (IoT) describes all items connected to the world wide web, from smartphones to cars and home appliances.




Lane Assist systems warn the driver that the vehicle is about to stray across lane markings.

Lane Centering, also known as Auto Steer, is an advanced form of Lane Assist which actively intervenes to steer the car.

Level One (1 “hands on”) is the most basic level of autonomy, as set out by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). A single element of the driving process is automated, such as cruise control or lane assist.

Level Two (2 “hands off”) is the second most basic level of autonomy, as set out by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Computers perform multiple functions but the driver remains in control.

Level Three (3 “eyes off”) is the midway point to driverless, as set out by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). These cars can drive themselves in certain situations, but drivers must be ready to retake control.

Level Four (4 “mind off”) is the step before full automation, as set out by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). These cars can genuinely self-drive, but only within predefined areas known as operational design domains.

Level Five (5 “steering wheel optional”) is the final step, full automation, as set out by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). These cars are capable of self-driving anywhere, even off-road.

LiDAR – short for light detection and ranging – is one of the key enablers of self-driving cars. It works out distance by firing light at a target and measuring the reflected pulses.


Mcity in Ann Arbor is the University of Michigan’s purpose-built test facility for driverless vehicles.


Non-autonomous refers to vehicles which still need a driver.

Not-spots are areas with little or no internet access.


Open XC is a hardware and software interface that lets apps talk to a car’s onboard systems.

Over-the-Air (OTA) describes ways of remotely distributing vehicle software updates.


Pedestrian Detection / Pedestrian Crash Avoidance Mitigation (PCAM) e.g. the night vision system on Honda’s 2004 Legend and pedestrian airbag on Volvo’s 2012 V40.



Remote Drivers are humans stationed in a call centre who can intervene when a driverless car encounters a scenario which befuddles its sensors.

Roadmanship – courteous self-driving road etiquette

Robot Car / Robo-car / Robocar – another name for a driverless car.

Robot Taxi / Robotaxi / Robo-Cab / Robocab – a driverless taxi.


A Safety Driver sits in the driver’s seat of a test driverless car, ready to take control if necessary.

The Self Drive Act is US legislation establishing a national policy to encourage the testing and deployment of driverless cars.

Self-Driving Cars – another name for driverless cars.

Semi-autonomous vehicles are those capable of operating without the normal level of driver input, thanks to ADAS features.


Telematics is the long-distance transmission of computer data.



Vehicle-to-Device (V2D) communications connect vehicles and other devices, e.g. smartphones, e-bikes and e-scooters.

Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) communications between vehicles, infrastructure, pedestrians etc, often to indicate location, speed and direction for improved safety.

Vehicle-to-Motorcycle (V2M) communications connects vehicles to motorcycles, a priority given the high collision and fatality rates.

Vehicle-to-Pedestrian (V2P) communications connects vehicles to pedestrians.

Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communications connect vehicles to other vehicles.