Mercedes-Benz has released details of the sales launch of Drive Pilot in its home market of Germany.
The system, which allows conditionally automated driving at SAE Level 3, can be ordered from 17 May 2022 as an optional extra for the S-Class and EQS. Mercedes-Benz said it is the first car manufacturer in the world with an international valid certification for conditional automated driving to offer such a system as an option, ex-works, for vehicles from series production.
In parallel to the launch in Germany, the company aims to obtain regulatory series approval for the US states of California and Nevada by the end of the year, provided the legal situation permits the system’s operation.
Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes‑Benz Group responsible for marketing and sales, said responsible handling of future technologies such as conditional automated driving is the key to acceptance among customers and society.
“With Drive Pilot, we have developed an innovative technology that, thanks to redundancies with many sensors, enables safe operation and gives the valuable asset [of] time back to the customer,” said Seeger.
Drive Pilot includes additional sensors for safe operation during automated driving. These mainly include radar, lidar and cameras, but ultrasound and moisture sensors are also present to provide data.
According to Mercedes-Benz, SAE Level 3 allows the automated driving function to control certain driving tasks, such as in heavy traffic or congestion situations on suitable motorway sections up to a speed of 60 km/h, but a driver is still required. The driver must be ready to take control when prompted to intervene by the vehicle.
After activating Drive Pilot, the system controls speed and distance while guiding the vehicle within its lane. It also analyses the route profile, events occurring on the route and traffic. Mercedes-Benz says Drive Pilot reacts to unexpected traffic situations and handles them independently, for example, by means of evasive manoeuvres within the lane or by using braking manoeuvres.
Mercedes-Benz said that in the event of a malfunction, which it describes as “unlikely”, the vehicle remains manoeuvrable due to its redundant system design, allowing Drive Pilot to perform a safe handover to the driver. If the driver does not comply with the takeover request within the maximum allotted time of 10 seconds, for example due to a medical emergency, Drive Pilot quickly initiates an emergency stop that is safe both for the vehicle and the following traffic. For this purpose, the Intelligent Drive Controller continuously calculates the optimum trajectory for coming to a safe stop. The manoeuvrability of Drive Pilot is designed to keep the vehicle within its lane and avoid collisions with other road users and objects on the road.
Mercedes-Benz said it ensures the technology is legally compliant, with engineers, lawyers, compliance managers, data protection officers and ethics experts working together in the development process.