Hey, Ma! Certified for No-Hands Driving by Mercedes-Benz in the U.S.

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Mercedes-Benz has overtaken Tesla as the nation’s first automaker to receive SAE Level 3 certification for hands-free driving. in a standard-production (albeit luxury) vehicle. The Drive Pilot system from Mercedes has received Nevada’s approval for conditional automated driving on public freeways. Mercedes-Benz will offer Drive Pilot as an option on its 2024 S-Class and EQS electric sedans, which will begin shipping from Germany to American customers in the second half of 2023.

The move follows similar certification in Germany last year, where Level 3 vehicles are legally allowed to drive themselves, with drivers prepared to take over if prompted, on parts of the Autobahn at limited speeds. Similar to Level 2 systems in modern cars, Level 3 permits hands-free driving. The difference: Level 2 will disengage if the driver does not pay attention to the road. Level 3 does not necessitate the driver’s full attention, but it does require that they be ready to regain control when necessary, such as when an emergency vehicle is nearby.

  • How It Works

A tool for hands-free driving in traffic, the system will be permitted on some freeway sections and operate up to 40 mph. When the conditions are right, the vehicle will alert the driver, and the driver can then activate Drive Pilot, which will take control of the driving, obey all traffic signals, and react to the vehicles in its immediate vicinity by accelerating and braking as needed. The car will stop, activate the hazard warning lights, place an emergency call, and unlock the doors for emergency personnel if the driver is asked to take control but refuses to do so after several warnings.

Late last year, Mercedes submitted the required paperwork to certify Level 3 driving of a few of its high-end vehicles in the United States, focusing initially on California and Nevada. The hope was, if all went smoothly, drivers of the S-Class or EQS sedans equipped with Drive Pilot Level 3 would be able to legally check their email or watch a movie in certain states by mid-2023. The state of Nevada quickly gave its approval, and everything went very smoothly. On the California application, Mercedes is awaiting a decision.

Matthias Struck, team lead for autonomous driving at Mercedes-Benz, previously told MotorTrend that once certification is approved, it would take a few months to produce vehicles with the system and ship them to the U.S. for sale.

  • Equipped for Safety

The safety features on the cars are highly redundant. Demonstration vehicles MotorTrend has tried in Germany are equipped with five radars, six cameras, a wetness sensor, 12 ultrasonic sensors, a positioning system, microphones inside the car, and lidar for a total of 35 devices working together for a safe trip using detailed digital maps and data.

When granted that status in Germany in May 2022, Mercedes-Benz became the first automaker in the world to be certified for Level 3 autonomous driving on a commercial basis, and it is now offered on the two flagship sedans. In Germany, certification was completed in four weeks.

Because laws vary across the nation and state-by-state regulation of driving laws, the U.S. is unique. Driving laws are governed by national law in Germany and are uniform throughout the country. Eventually Mercedes wants to add more states, countries, and models running Drive Pilot Level 3.

Source: motortrend.com

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