A couple of weeks after Mercedes-Benz announced it had been granted approval to operate Level 3 autonomous driving functions on roads in Nevada, the company confirmed the system will become available to customers in the second half of 2023. Mercedes-Benz said it plans to continue to expand to California later this year with the certification documents already filed with state authorities.
The new Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot system is the first and only SAE Level 3 system fitted to a standard production vehicle that has been authorized for use on public freeways in the U.S. The system can operate on sections of freeway with high traffic density and can take over all driving tasks at speeds of up to 40 mph (64 km/h).
If all of the conditions are met, the driver can activate Drive Pilot and it will proceed to control the speed and distance of the vehicle, keep it in its lane, and deal with any unexpected traffic situations without needing any driver input. It also takes into consideration things that occur along the route, as well as all traffic signs.
A major point of difference between this new Drive Pilot system and the already-excellent driver assistance features found on current Mercedes-Benz models is the use of LiDAR. It also features a camera in the rear window, microphones for detecting emergency vehicles, and a road wetness sensor in the wheel well. Vehicles with Drive Pilot also have redundant steering and braking actuators.
In the event of the driver not taking control when prompted, the system will brake the car to a standstill, enable the hazard warning lights, and unlock the doors.
Read: Mercedes Will Take Legal Responsibility For Accidents Involving Its Level 3 Autonomous Drive Pilot
“In the modern world, time is one of the most precious commodities, and giving back time to our customers is a core element in our strategy to build the world’s most desirable cars,” member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG and chief technology officer responsible for Development and Procurement, Markus Schäfer described. “Our DRIVE PILOT takes a major step forward in achieving that, and places us at the very forefront of innovation in the crucially important field of automated driving.”
Drive Pilot will be available in the U.S. as an option on 2024 Mercedes-Benz S-Class and EQS Sedan models