by Tiana May
12 Jun 2023
Mercedes‑Benz’s DRIVE PILOT system for SAE Level 3 conditionally automated driving has received certification for use in the state of California.
With this milestone, Mercedes-Benz is the first car manufacturer authorised to introduce an SAE Level 3 system in a standard-production vehicle for use on public freeways in California, the most populous state in the US.
DRIVE PILOT will be available in the US market as an option for 2024 Mercedes‑Benz S-Class and EQS Sedan models, with the first cars delivered to customers in late 2023.
Earlier this year, the state of Nevada also confirmed the compliance of the system with state regulations, and Mercedes‑Benz aims to further expand its availability to additional markets in the future.
“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.
“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.”
SAE Level 3 conditional automation can take control in certain situations, allowing the driver to instead focus on a secondary activity.
Once conditions are suitable, the system indicates availability and can be activated by the driver. It then navigates its surroundings, the route profile and traffic signs and can independently respond to unexpected situations through evasive manoeuvres or braking.
However, the driver must be available to take over again when prompted.
If the driver fails to take back control after increasingly urgent prompting, the system brakes the vehicle to a standstill and engages the hazard warning lights.
Once the vehicle has come to a standstill, the emergency call system is activated and the doors are unlocked to ensure the vehicle is accessible for first responders.
This feature will be available at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour on suitable freeway sections and in high-density traffic.
“We are extremely proud to continue our Level 3 conditionally automated driving leadership and remain at the forefront of innovation in the US market with certification in California. 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.”
DRIVE PILOT builds on the surround sensors of Mercedes-Benz’s Driver Assistance Package and includes additional sensors such as LiDAR, a camera in the rear window and microphones for detecting emergency vehicles, as well as a road wetness sensor in the wheel well.
In the long-term, Mercedes-Benz is focusing on SAE Level 3 conditionally automated driving at speeds of up to 80 mph.
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