Mercedes-Benz has achieved a milestone as the first automaker to offer SAE Level 3 automated driving in the US.
At the end of 2023, the production-ready version of Drive Pilot will be introduced in a limited number of 2024 Mercedes-Benz EQS Sedans. This technology was approved to be used in California and Nevada earlier this year.
The feature will be extended to other vehicles, such as the 2024 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, in the beginning of 2024.
It’s superior to the likes of BlueCruise or Super Cruise, which are Level 2 systems with only hands-off driving capability, Drive Pilot can conditionally handle the driving task up to 40 mph. This makes it the first system of its kind.
With Drive Pilot, drivers can enjoy other activities, such as reading a book or checking email, while the vehicle is moving.
However, certain highways with high traffic density are the only places where Drive Pilot will work. If the highway isn’t congested and the speeds are too high, the system won’t activate.
Cars with Drive Pilot feature LiDAR, a rear camera, microphones to listen for emergency vehicles, and a road wetness sensor. These help them picture the area and situation around them.
In case one of these systems fails, redundant steering and braking actuators make sure the driver can take over smoothly.
Special lights with a turquoise color will be used to indicate the activation of Drive Pilot.
You won’t see Drive Pilot-enabled EQS and S-Class units in nearby showrooms if you don’t live in California or Nevada, because only participating dealerships in these states are allowed to sell these cars.
The system can be accessed through the Mercedes me connect store for $2,500 and up, with more options to follow later, such as the availability of subscription.
This is reasonable as customers may want to stop their subscription if they move out of the two supported regions. Besides, selling in-car subscriptions has proven profitable for Mercedes-Benz.