Drivers in Nevada will now be able to answer emails and take their attention off the road with Drive Pilot
2 hours ago
by Sebastien Bell
Mercedes-Benz said today that it has received regulatory approval to operate Level 3 autonomous driving function on Nevada’s roads. That makes it the first automaker to earn such an approval in the United States.
The automaker made the announcement today at CES, per Autonews, and the function will be available on the Mercedes S-Class and the all-electric EQS. According to SAE International, Level 3 automation allows a vehicle to drive itself under limited conditions. When that happens, the driver can take their eyes off the road and the person in the driver’s seat is not considered to be “driving.”
Mercedes’ Drive Pilot system, though, only works at speeds of up to 40 mph (64 km/h). That means that it will primarily be used during traffic jams. While that’s not quite full autonomy, it does at least mean that a driver could answer emails or take their focus off the road during their commute.
Read: Mercedes Will Take Legal Responsibility For Accidents Involving Its Level 3 Autonomous Drive Pilot
The person in the driver’s seat cannot fall asleep, though, because the car may ask them to take over control at any time. If the driver does not respond to the vehicle within 10 seconds, it will make an emergency stop.
Although some companies have started operating fully autonomous vehicles in places such as San Francisco, those are being used as robotaxis. Mercedes’ Drive Pilot, meanwhile, is aimed at customer vehicles.
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After Nevada, Mercedes said it aims to seek a similar certification in California. Though new in the U.S., the automaker already offers Drive Pilot in Europe. In Germany, it is an option that costs €5,000 ($5,331 USD at current exchange rates) on S-Class, and €7,430 ($7,922 USD) on the EQS.
In addition, to Drive Pilot, Mercedes said that its Automatic Lane Change feature will also be rolled out in North America this year. The system allows vehicles to change lanes while cruise control is on.