Since the first Motorwagen saw the light in 1886, many inventions have given automobiles the ability to be more responsive to human needs and to facilitate their use. A short list includes electric ignition starter, car radio, car key, power steering, cruise control, electric windows, intermittent windshield wipers, anti-lock braking system (ABS), digital dashboard displays, electromagnetic parking sensors, on-board diagnostics, mobile connection, satellite navigation, reversing camera, automatic parking, driver assistance features, etc.

Starting from the first 1939 experiments, many efforts have given automobiles some “self-driving” capabilities. Recently, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) in the USA has developed a Level-based classification of cars that have “self-driving” capabilities [14]. Today, self-driving cars are not only technically possible, but several implementations also exist. They promise to bring benefits that will positively affect industry, society, and the environment, such as:

  1. Replacing human error with a machine less prone to errors.
  2. Giving humans more time for rewarding activities, such as interpersonal communication.
  3. Optimising the use of vehicles and infrastructure.
  4. Reducing congestion and pollution.
  5. Supporting elderly and disabled people.

Therefore, the transformation of what can be called today’s “niche market” into tomorrow’s vibrant mass market is a goal of high industrial importance with positive impacts on society and individuals. The goal could be achieved by relying on market forces and waiting for users to demand cars with progressively higher SAE Levels. Moving Picture, Audio, and Data Coding by Artificial Intelligence (MPAI), the international unaffiliated, non-profit organisation developing AI-enabled data coding standards, believes that a component-based standardisation process is more effective.

The approach should be implemented in three standardisation steps:

  1. A Reference Model specifying functions and interfaces of subsystems and components.
  2. Functional Requirements of Data Types exchanged between components.
  3. Technologies supporting the processing of Data Types.

This approach offers various advantages:

  1. Research can:
    • Concentrate on different individual components.
    • Optimise components while keeping unchanged the Functional Requirements of interfaces.
  2. Industry can promote the definition of Data Formats when:
    • Research results are mature.
    • A component is needed.
  3. Component manufacturers can:
    • Develop optimised component solutions based on publicly available specifications.
    • Bring their standard-confirming components to market.
  4. Car manufacturers can:
    • Access an open global market of components.
    • Benefit from components with standard functions and interfaces.
    • Test components for conformance using standard procedures.
  5. Regulators can use tools to oversee the development of the market.
  6. Users can rely on CAVs whose operation they can explain.

In this Introduction and in the following Chapters, the following conventions apply:

  1. Terms beginning with a capital letter are defined in Table 1 if they are specific to this Technical Specification and in Table 18 if they are shared with other MPAI Technical Specifications.
  2. Words beginning with a capital letter that have an equivalent word beginning with a small letter represent the “digital twin” of that word.
  3. Chapters and the Annexes are Normative unless they are labelled as Informative.