Mercedes-Benz announced that it has obtained the “Level 3” autonomous driving certification in Nevada, the United States. The first batch of truly “hands-off” cars will be delivered in the second half of 2023

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Last Thursday (26th), Mercedes officially announced that their Drive Pilot ADAS (automatic driving assistance system) complies with the requirements of Nevada’s 482A Act, which means that Drive Pilot has become the only legal Level 3 system in the United States.

And “engadget” reported that Mercedes-Benz (Mercedes-Benz) announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in early January this year (2023) that it would soon become the first company to receive the SAE, Society of Automotive Engineers) Level 3 driver assistance system certified car factory.


Differences between Level 3 and Level 2

Level 3 driver assistance systems, as defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), enable a vehicle to handle “all aspects” of driving, but still require the driver to be attentive enough to take control quickly if necessary.

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“The Drive” explained that this does not mean that the owner can take a nap or chat in the back seat while driving autonomously, it only means that the owner can take his hands off the steering wheel and do other things while driving autonomously, but still be prepared to do so at any time. Prepare to regain control.

According to a press release issued by Mercedes-Benz , as long as it is on a suitable highway section and a place with high traffic density, Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot can take over the dynamic driving task, but currently it can only reach a top speed of 40 miles (about 64 kilometers). Once the driving conditions are right, the system will send a prompt telling the owner that the computer can now take over the vehicle, and the owner can enter Level 3 autonomous driving mode by pressing the control buttons on the left and right sides above the thumb groove on the steering wheel.


On a closed track in Germany last year, journalists from The Drive and a Mercedes engineer tested the system. In this test, although the driver can turn his head to talk to the passenger or use the in-car screen to play Tetris, but the in-car camera must keep the driver’s face in view, otherwise it will not work. For example, the Drive Pilot driver assistance system automatically disengages when the driving reporter holds the camera up to his face for a photo.

Nevertheless, according to “Engadget”, compared to the Level 2 driver assistance systems on the market today, such as Tesla’s ” Full Self-Driving “, Ford’s ” Blue Cruise “, and General Motors (GM)’s ” Super Cruise “, Level 3 level is still a big improvement. Because Level 2 driver assistance systems still require drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel, or at least close to it.

“In the modern world, time is one of the most precious commodities. It is up to us to give time back to our customers,” said Markus Schäfer, chief technology officer of Mercedes-Benz AG, in a press release last Thursday . A core element of the strategy to build the world’s most desirable cars. And our Drive Pilot is a major step toward making that happen.”

Dimitris Psillakis, President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA), also said : “This is a very proud moment, as the first company to obtain Level 3 driver assistance systems in the US market. To be certified as a factory is a huge achievement.”

However, according to a report by ” The Verge “, the Level 3 system is not without risks, and even most self-driving car manufacturers, including Waymo and Cruise, said that they think Level 3 is too dangerous and would rather only develop Level 4 technology. The reason is that when Level 3 requires the car to do most of the autonomous driving tasks, it needs to keep the driver’s attention.

The report mentioned that studies have pointed out that this kind of letting go of self-driving system control and human driving is particularly worrying. When people haven’t driven for too long, it’s easy to overreact when suddenly taking over in an emergency, whether it’s steering the wheel wildly, applying the brakes too hard, or failing to react properly. These reactions can create dangerous and even fatal chain reactions.

Mercedes’ Drive Pilot is available for the 2024 model year S-Class and EQS sedan models, with the first cars to be delivered in the second half of 2023.


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