Mercedes-Benz has secured a significant milestone in the field of automated driving technology, surpassing Tesla to gain approval from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The approval allows Mercedes-Benz to offer its automated driving system on designated highways in California, with certain conditions in place. While Tesla has a substantial presence in California, accounting for 16% of its global deliveries last year, it was Mercedes-Benz that emerged as the first carmaker to receive authorization to sell or lease vehicles equipped with an automated driving system to the public in the state.
The approval specifically applies to Mercedes-Benz’s Level 3 ‘DRIVE PILOT’ system, which permits drivers to momentarily divert their attention from the road while driving on highways. However, they must be prepared to regain control of the vehicle when necessary. The system is restricted to daytime operation on highways, with speeds not exceeding 40 miles per hour, according to the DMV’s specifications.
Mercedes-Benz plans to introduce the automated driving system as an optional feature for its model year 2024 S-Class and EQS Sedan vehicles in the U.S. market. Deliveries of these models are expected to commence later this year. It’s worth noting that other automated driving systems currently in use, such as Tesla’s Autopilot and General Motors’ Super Cruise, fall under the SAE Level 2 classification. These systems require drivers to remain attentive and ready to intervene at all times.
Mercedes-Benz has been granted permission to deploy its ‘DRIVE PILOT’ system in several regions of California, including the Bay Area, Central Valley, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, and the interstate highway connecting Southern California to Nevada. Earlier this year, the company also received approval to deploy advanced automated driving systems on Nevada’s roads, further solidifying its position in the automated driving space.