Mercedes-Benz is celebrating a significant milestone as the first automaker to receive U.S. state approval for the deployment of a Level 3 conditionally automated driving system, known as DRIVE PILOT. This announcement marks a groundbreaking moment in the pursuit of advanced autonomous driving technology. Here’s what you need to know about this remarkable development:Pioneering Achievement: Mercedes-Benz has achieved a remarkable feat by becoming the first automotive manufacturer in the world to introduce a Level 3 automated driving system in a standard-production vehicle to U.S. customers. This achievement solidifies Mercedes-Benz’s position as an industry leader in pioneering advancements in automated driving.
Fundamentally, successful use of the new DRIVE PILOT system does not require your hands on the wheel nor does it require your attention. Below are the key points that you must know in understanding this new Level 3 automated driving system.
- Geographic Rollout: The production-ready version of DRIVE PILOT is set to debut on the roads of California and Nevada in late 2023. Initially, a limited fleet of SAE Level 3-equipped EQS Sedans will be available, known as DRIVE PILOT: First Class. Early in 2024, Mercedes-Benz plans to expand customer deliveries of DRIVE PILOT-equipped MY2024 EQS Sedans and S-Class models through authorized dealers in California and Nevada.
- Safety and Redundancy: Safety is at the core of DRIVE PILOT’s design. The system relies on redundancy, incorporating a range of sensor types, including LiDAR, cameras, microphones, and a road wetness sensor, to ensure operational reliability. Additionally, redundant steering and braking actuators and a redundant onboard electrical system are in place to guarantee maneuverability in case of a system failure.
- Subscription-Based Model: Mercedes-Benz will offer DRIVE PILOT as a subscription service through the U.S. Mercedes me connect store, with pricing starting at $2,500. This approach allows customers to access the system’s capabilities and choose options that align with their specific needs, offering flexibility and adaptability as technology evolves.
- Precision Positioning: DRIVE PILOT relies on a high-precision positioning system, surpassing conventional GPS technology in accuracy. It can pinpoint the vehicle’s location within inches. A digital HD map complements sensor data, providing a detailed three-dimensional view of the road and surroundings, including information on road geometry, route characteristics, and traffic signs.
- Ethical Considerations: Mercedes-Benz is at the forefront of integrating social and ethical aspects into automated driving. They use turquoise-colored Automated Driving Marker Lights to indicate when DRIVE PILOT is engaged, prioritizing driver awareness and safety. Discussions with state and federal agencies are ongoing to establish a common standard for such technologies.
- Legal Compliance: Mercedes-Benz is committed to complying with all regulatory requirements for new technology on public roadways. An interdisciplinary team of experts worked together to ensure the technology aligns with traffic regulations and safety standards, with compliance in accordance with NHTSA regulations governing ADS-equipped vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz’s announcement of the U.S. availability of DRIVE PILOT Level 3 Automated Driving System represents a significant leap forward in the development of autonomous driving technology. It combines cutting-edge engineering with a strong emphasis on safety, ethics, and legal compliance, setting a new standard for the automotive industry in the United States. As this technology evolves and regulatory frameworks adapt, we can expect to see further advancements in automated driving from Mercedes-Benz and other automakers.
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