Mercedes-Benz is the world’s first automotive company to bring SAE Level 3 conditionally-automated driving to the US, with Nevada confirming the compliance of the company’s Drive Pilot system with state regulations for autonomous vehicles.
The company plans to expand to California later this year after filing certification documents with state authorities.
Drive Pilot will be available in the US market as an option for model year 2024 Mercedes-Benz S-Class and EQS Sedan models, with the first cars delivered to customers in the second half of 2023.
“In the modern world, time is one of the most precious commodities, and giving back time to our customers is a core element in our strategy to build the world’s most desirable cars,” said Markus Schaefer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group and Chief Technology Officer responsible for Development and Procurement. “Our Drive Pilot takes a major step forward in achieving that, and places us at the very forefront of innovation in the crucially important field of automated driving. Drive Pilot demonstrates once more that our pioneering spirit is part of our DNA. Certification in Nevada marks the start of its international rollout and, with it, the dawning of a new era.”
Introduced in Germany in May 2022, Drive Pilot was the first SAE Level 3 system in the world to meet the legal requirements of UN Regulation 157. The German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) granted system approval, paving the way for offering Drive Pilot internationally where legislation allows.
Mercedes-Benz says the system allows drivers to hand the “dynamic driving task” to the vehicle under certain conditions. On suitable freeway sections and where there is high traffic density, Drive Pilot can offer to take over at up to 40 mph (64 km/h).
The system builds on the surround sensors of the Driving Assistance Package and features additional sensors that Mercedes-Benz considers indispensable for safe conditionally automated driving. These include lidar, a camera in the rear window, microphones for detecting emergency vehicles, and a road wetness sensor in the wheel well. Drive Pilot also has redundant steering and braking actuators along with a redundant onboard electrical system so that it remains manoeuvrable even if one of these systems fails, ensuring a safe handover to the driver.