Mercedes-Benz becomes first carmaker to certify SAE Level 3 system in US

Mercedes-Benz becomes first carmaker to certify SAE Level 3 system in US

MANILA: Mercedes-Benz is the first automaker in the world to offer SAE Level 3 conditionally automated driving to the US.


  • On which Mercedes-Benz models will Drive Pilot be initially offered?

    Drive Pilot will be offered as an option on the 2024 Mercedes-Benz S-Class and 2024 Mercedes-Benz EQS Sedan, with the first units to be delivered to customers within the second half of 2023.
  • On which country did the Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot system made its debut?

    The Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot system made its debut in Germany in May 2022.
  • The first state to certify the system's compliance with state regulations was Nevada.

    The Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot system is distinguished by this significant milestone as the first and only SAE Level 3 system in a standard-production car authorized for use on US public roadways. Drive Pilot will let the driver delegate the dynamic driving task to the vehicle in compliance with Nevada Chapter 482A for Autonomous Vehicles under certain conditions. Mercedes-Benz aims to extend this to California later this year as it has already submitted the required certification documents to state officials. Drive Pilot will be offered as an option on the 2024 S-Class and 2024 EQS Sedan, with the first units to be delivered to customers within the second half of 2023.

    Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot

    “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. 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,” Mercedes-Benz AG Chief Technology Officer Markus Schafer stated.

    Drive Pilot can offer to take over the dynamic driving task up to 64kph on eligible freeway segments and in areas with heavy traffic. The control buttons needed are placed in the steering wheel rim, on the left and right above the thumb recesses. When the conditions are suitable, the system displays availability on the control buttons. Once the driver activates Drive Pilot, the system automatically regulates speed and distance while keeping the vehicle within its lane. The route profile, events that take place along the way, and traffic signs are considered as well.

    “An unwavering commitment to innovation has consistently guided Mercedes-Benz from the very beginning. It is a very proud moment for everyone to continue this leadership and celebrate this monumental achievement as the first automotive company to be certified for Level 3 conditionally automated driving in the US market,” Mercedes-Benz USA President and Chief Executive Officer Dimitris Psillakis said.

    Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot

    When implementing such a system, safety is Mercedes-Benz's priority, and this includes having high expectations for operational reliability. Drive Pilot builds on the surround sensors of the Driving Assistance Package plus additional sensors essential for safe conditionally automated driving. These include LiDAR, a camera in the rear window, microphones to detect emergency vehicles, and a road wetness sensor in the wheel well. A vehicle with the optional Drive Pilot system also includes redundant steering and braking actuators and a redundant on-board electrical system to guarantee a safe handover to the driver in case one of these systems fails.

    If the driver does not regain control despite increasingly urgent warning and the expiration of the takeover time, the system brakes the vehicle to a controlled stop while activating the hazard warning lights. The Mercedes-Benz emergency call system is initiated as soon as the vehicle comes to a halt and the doors are unlocked so that emergency personnel can enter the vehicle.

    With Drive Pilot installed, a Mercedes-Benz can be located accurately, thanks to a high-precision positioning technology that is significantly more effective than standard GPS.  A digital HD map offers a three-dimensional image of the road and surroundings with information on road geometry, route characteristics, traffic signs, and special traffic events in addition to the anonymized data acquired by LiDAR, camera, radar, and ultrasound sensors. This is updated and made accessible through a backend connection.

    Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot

    This map differs from maps for navigation devices as it has increased accuracy in the centimeter rather than meter range and detailed junction and route model. Each vehicle keeps an image of the map data on board, constantly compares it to the backend information, and updates the local dataset as needed.

    The highly advanced Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot system, which made its debut in Germany in May 2022, was the first SAE Level 3 system in the world to meet the stringent legal standards of UNR157. The German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) first gave system approval based on the regulation UN-R157, allowing the Drive Pilot to be offered globally, where legislation allows.

    Photos from Mercedes-Benz

    Also read: 2024 Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupe to arrive in US dealerships this year

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