Mercedes-Benz has received approval to sell partially autonomous cars in California. Customers will be able to order S-Class and EQS sedans with self-driving features that will allow them to spend time on board doing something else but driving.
The German carmaker got achieved the approval from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The approval will allow it to sell Level 3 autonomous vehicles within the state. That translates into the cars getting the Drive Pilot Level 3 autonomous feature.
It is the first time that an advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) that will not require constant driver engagement gets approved for sale in the US. But what is the Drive Pilot capable of? First and foremost, it allows the person in the driver’s seat to do something else but drive. It means that the driver can take their hands off the steering wheel and their eyes off the road while on the move. But they must also be ready to take over when the system asks them to.
That makes it different from Tesla’s Autopilot, for instance.
The system developed in Silicon Valley requires drivers to be in control while the car is in motion at all times, despite the fact that some drivers ignore this part of the tech their car is equipped with. Such decisions have led to fatal collisions over the years, while the Level 2+ system was active.
The Mercedes-Benz autonomous driving system also has certain limitations. It only works in broad daylight, at speeds below 40 mph (64 km/h), and only on certain highways. One of them is the one connecting California cu Nevada. The Drive Pilot has also been approved for sale in the letter. The system will also work in Los Angeles, California, or San Diego, in cars such as the S-Class and the EQS flagships.
“Mercedes-Benz DRIVE PILOT is the world’s only SAE Level 3 system with internationally valid type approval,” said Markus Schafer, chief technology officer at Mercedes.