The streets of Nevada will be the first to host Mercedes-Benz’s Level 3 automated vehicles. The US government recently granted the approval on January 27, after Mercedes guaranteed that its Drive Pilot technology meets the states “minimal risk condition” requirements for autonomous vehicles.
This makes Mercedes-Benz the world’s first car manufacturer to successfully bring highly automated vehicles to the public. Its highly automated driving system meets Nevada Chapter 482A requirements for autonomous vehicles. Mercedes’ Drive Pilot technology allows the driver to hand over the dynamic driving task to the vehicle under certain conditions.
Mercedes-Benz is reported to be the world’s first automotive company to meet the demanding legal requirements under UN Regulation No. 157 for a Level 3 system. At the end of 2021, the German Federal Motor Transport Authority granted system approval based on the technical approval of UN-R157, thus paving the way for such a system to be offered internationally, provided that the respective national legislation allows it.
To activate the system, the driver simply needs to push the control buttons located on the steering wheel. This frees the driver from having to keep their eyes on the road, allowing the driver to return their attention to other things, such as reading or working. Drive Pilot allows the driver to sit back and let the vehicle do the work. However, if the driver wishes to do so, they can take back control of the vehicle at any time.
While in Drive Pilot mode, cameras are always monitoring the driver. Should the driver no longer be visible or have fallen asleep or for some other reason failed to take over the vehicle, the system will disengage. The car will then come to a standstill and the vehicle’s hazard warning lights will activate, while unlocking all doors. An emergency call will be made all doors will unlock to ensure that first responders are able to reach non-responsive driver and anyone else in the vehicle.
Sensors surround the entire vehicle body enabling it to scan its surroundings. In combination with LiDAR, which includes a rear window camera, microphones and road wetness sensors, Drive Pilot can safely maneuver through traffic and unexpected situations.
The maximum operating velocity is set to 40 mph (64 km/h), which is perfectly suitable for traffic dense areas and freeways. The speed cap set here is due to government regulation.
Drive Pilot will be available in the 2024 S-Class and EQS sedan. The first vehicles are expected to be delivered to clients within the second half of 2023.
Mercedes-Benz is optimistic that California will soon follow. The automaker reportedly has already filed certification documents with state authorities.