Repairer Driven News
« Back « PREV Article  |  NEXT Article »

Mercedes to launch Level 3 driving in California, Nevada later this year

By on
Legal | Technology
Share This:

Mercedes‑Benz has received approval in California for its Level 3 automated driving feature, Drive Pilot, making the OEM the first in the U.S. to offer an SAE Level 3 feature on standard production vehicles.

Tesla vehicles are widely popular in California but the OEM’s highest autonomous driving feature reaches SAE Level 2 functionality, which still considers the driver to constantly supervise control of the vehicle. General Motors’ Super Cruise features are also Level 2.

Drive Pilot will be available as an option beginning with model year 2024 S-Class and EQS Sedan models in California and Nevada, with the first cars delivered to customers late this year. Nevada confirmed the compliance of the feature with state regulations in January. Mercedes plans to branch out to other markets in the future.

SAE defines Level 3 as the automated driving system being in full control of driving tasks and won’t require the person sitting in the driver’s seat to take over unless prompted. Mercedes cautions that while its Level 3-equipped vehicles will be in control, the driver is still required to pay attention and be ready to take control of the vehicle when necessary or when asked to by the vehicle. While Mercedes said drivers can have their attention on secondary activities, the OEM notes that drivers should follow legally permissible activities based on national road traffic regulations.

According to Reuters, the Bay Area, Central Valley, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Diego and the interstate highway connecting Southern California to Nevada are among the roads that qualify.

Drive Pilot builds on the surround sensors of the driver assistance package and uses additional sensors, including lidar, a camera in the rear window, microphones for detecting emergency vehicles, and a road wetness sensor in the wheel well. Drive Pilot-equipped vehicles will also have redundant steering and braking actuators and a redundant onboard electrical system to allow maneuverability if one of these systems fails for a safe handover to the driver.

When Drive Pilot is active, applications can be enabled on the vehicle’s integrated central display that is otherwise blocked while driving.

“Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot is the world’s only SAE Level 3 system with internationally valid type approval. It builds on a very robust foundation, setting new industry standards,” said Markus Schäfer, chief technology officer and Mercedes-Benz Group AG Board of Management member. “Drive Pilot uses a highly sophisticated vehicle architecture based on redundancy with a multitude of sensors enabling comfortable and safe conditionally automated driving. The certification by the authorities in California and in Nevada once again confirms that redundancy is the safe and thus the right approach.”

On suitable freeway sections and where there is high traffic density, Drive Pilot can take over speed, keeping the vehicle in its lane, and at an appropriate distance from other vehicles up to speeds of 40 mph. Once conditions are suitable, the system indicates availability on the control buttons on the steering wheel.

Drive Pilot takes into consideration the type of route, traffic and other things happening on the road, and traffic signs using evasive maneuvers or braking when needed.

If the driver fails to take back control even after increasingly urgent prompting and expiration of the takeover time — due to a medical emergency, for example — the hazard warning lights are turned on, the vehicle is brought to a stop, and an emergency call is made. The doors would also be unlocked to ensure first responders can get to the driver.

“We are extremely proud to continue our Level 3 conditionally automated driving leadership and remain at the forefront of innovation in the U.S. market with certification in California,” said Dimitris Psillakis, Mercedes-Benz USA president and CEO. “This game-changing system underscores our ambition to lead in safety and technology, and provides unparalleled convenience for our valued customers by giving them back time while safely navigating today’s congested freeways.”

Mercedes-Benz says it’s focusing on SAE Level 3 conditionally automated driving with the ultimate goal of driving at speeds of up to 80 mph. Additional redundancy in sensing modalities will ensure that the system meets the highest Mercedes safety standards, the OEM said.

To achieve its goal, the automaker has partnered with NVIDIA and Luminar, which are “perfect additions to the existing roster of first-class cooperations with leading and cutting–edge tech companies,” Mercedes said.


All photos provided by Mercedes-Benz

Share This: