Mercedes-Benz DRIVE PILOT: automated driving in California

Expanding in the U.S, the SAE Level 3 automated system arrives in California

In the quest for more technologically advanced driving, Mercedes-Benz has broken new ground. Its DRIVE PILOT system, an SAE Level 3 conditionally automated driving system, has just received certification in California.

“Mercedes-Benz DRIVE PILOT is the world’s only SAE Level 3 system with internationally valid type approval. It builds on a very robust foundation, setting new industry standards,”

Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes‑Benz Group AG and Chief Technology Officer.

This pivotal achievement makes Mercedes-Benz the first car manufacturer with authority to implement such a system in a standard-production vehicle on public roads in California. The DRIVE PILOT, which will be available as an option for the 2024 Mercedes‑Benz S-Class and EQS Sedan models, is set to be delivered to customers in late 2023.

Unfolding the DRIVE PILOT

The DRIVE PILOT system offers conditionally automated driving, which allows the driver to focus on secondary activities while the car maintains control. The system can take over the dynamic driving task in suitable freeway sections with high traffic density, up to speeds of 40 mph.

DRIVE PILOT in unexpected situations

The DRIVE PILOT has been designed to react independently to unexpected traffic situations, handling them with evasive maneuvers or braking as needed. If the driver fails to take control after repeated prompts, the system will safely bring the vehicle to a standstill, activate the Mercedes‑Benz emergency call system, and unlock the doors for first responders.

Redundancy: key for safe operation

Mercedes‑Benz prioritizes safety and operational reliability in the development of any system like the DRIVE PILOT. The system is built on a redundant vehicle architecture, including additional sensors such as LiDAR, a rear window camera, microphones for detecting emergency vehicles, and a road wetness sensor in the wheel well.

Specifications of the DRIVE PILOT system

  • SAE Level 3 conditionally automated driving system
  • Control of speed, distance, and guidance within lane
  • Braking and evasive maneuvers in unexpected traffic situations
  • Redundant sensors including LiDAR, a rear window camera, and microphones
  • Redundant steering and braking actuators

Looking forward: future of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz’s ultimate goal is to develop the DRIVE PILOT for driving at speeds of up to 80 mph (130 km/h) in its final version. In its ongoing efforts to realize this ambition, Mercedes-Benz has formed strong alliances with technology leaders like NVIDIA and Luminar, which perfectly complement its existing collaborations.

The company’s partnerships, its commitment to safety, and its innovative technology all point to a vision that takes into account not only the present needs of drivers but also the future landscape of mobility. The introduction of the DRIVE PILOT is not an endpoint but a waypoint on a longer journey towards fully automated driving—a journey that, by its very nature, requires long-term thinking and planning.


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