Mercedes-Benz Will Be the First to Hit Stage 3 Autonomous Driving in California

Tesla may dominate the EV market, but Mercedes-Benz just scored a win that could prove to be crucial going forward.

On Thursday, the German luxury marque became the first automaker to receive certification from the state of California to sell vehicles with a conditional automated driving system, according to Reuters. The technology is expected to be available as an option on two upcoming models the company will sell in the state.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles gave Mercedes approval to start selling vehicles with its “Drive Pilot” system. The SAE Level 3 advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) can’t fully operate a vehicle on its own, but it does allow the person behind the wheel to legally take their eyes off the road, though they must be available to resume control if needed. The technology can only be used on certain roads during daylight hours and not at speeds exceeding 40 mph. Those roads include highways in the Bay Area, Central Valley, Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego, as well as an interstate connecting the state to Nevada. Engadget notes that if all rules are followed, Mercedes and not the driver will be legally responsible for any accident that happens.

A Mercedes-Benz EQS equipped with “Drive Pilot”


Mercedes intends to make “Drive Pilot” available as an option on the 2024 S-Class saloon and its all-electric equivalent, the EQS sedan, according to Reuters. Deliveries of vehicles with the tech are expected to begin before the end of the year.

“Drive Pilot” is currently the most advanced ADAS system currently available in the US. Tesla’s Autopilot and General Motors’s Super Cruise technologies are both classified as Level 2 systems, which can handle some driving tasks but require the driver to pay full attention to the road should they need to take over. Tesla’s system has been the subject of intense scrutiny over the last year and in February the company recalled 362,000 EVs after the NHTSA found that its “Full Self-Driving Beta” software could “increase the risk of crash.”

Thursday’s approval isn’t the first such win for Mercedes. In January, Nevada also granted the automaker approval to deploy vehicles equipped with “Drive Pilot” on state roads. We’ll see what state is next to follow the pair’s lead.

Source: Robb Report

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