Mercedes-Benz announced Thursday that the German Federal Motor Transport Authority, or KBA, has approved the use of the automaker’s Level 3 autonomous driving system.
The KBA granted the approval based on the requirements of the United Nations Technical Regulations UN-R157 for autonomous driving. This decision paves the way for the Mercedes-Benz system, dubbed Drive Pilot, which will be offered worldwide.
“We have now achieved a breakthrough: we are the first manufacturer to condition automated driving in series production in Germany,” said Markus SchÃ¤fer, chief technology officer at Mercedes-Benz AG. âFor the first time in 136 years of automotive history, the vehicle takes on the task of dynamic driving under certain conditions.
German drivers get their first experience
Drive Pilot will be offered on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class in Europe during the first half of 2022. The system facilitates automated driving at speeds of up to 37 mph in heavy traffic. But don’t look for it in the United States; Level 3 systems are not yet legal for use on US roads. The same is true in China.
In fact, the progression of automation from level 2 to level 3 is so important that it requires national legislation in each country to allow it. Germany was the first country to approve the use of Level 3 systems, passing the Road Traffic Act in 2017, and there are over 8,140 miles of German roads where Drive Pilot can be used.
The difference between levels 2 and 3
Currently, the most advanced autonomous driving systems are Level 2, which supports the driver by allowing him to take over steering, acceleration and braking. So a driver’s feet may be off the pedals and they may not steer, but constant monitoring is needed to take over. You are still actively driving the car.
Level 3 is known as conditional driving automation. It uses the driving assistance systems and the artificial intelligence of the car to drive the car without your intervention under certain conditions. Unlike level 2, driver supervision is not required. This means that you can answer emails or shop online while the car is in motion, but you can’t close your eyes. Drivers should be ready to take over when the system calls for it.
How Drive Pilot works
Drive Pilot is based on the Mercedes-Benz Driver Assistance Package, which includes Radar Cruise Control with Steering Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Automatic Rear Braking with recognition of pedestrians. But Drive Pilot has additional sensors, microphones, lidar, and a rear window camera.
The system also collects information on road geometry, route profile, traffic signs and any accident or construction alerts from a digital map through a primary connection. The car’s position is monitored using satellite navigation combined with sensor data and a 3D map. The system is programmed to stop the car safely if the driver is unable to regain control of the car. Drive Pilot also includes redundant steering, braking and electrical systems.
Where are the other car manufacturers?
Despite what Daimler officials might think, they are not the first to offer a production level 3 car. That honor goes to Honda. In March 2021, the company announced the Japanese government approval for Honda Sensing Elite with Traffic Jam Pilot, a level 3 autonomous driving system available on the Japanese market Honda Legend Hybrid EX. But Honda has built about 100 of them so far, and they’re available to lease, not buy.
Other automakers still offer advanced Level 2 systems, with Tesla’s Autopilot and Cadillac’s Super Cruise being the most advanced. Other Level 2 systems include Ford’s BlueCruise, Nissan’s ProPilot Assist 2.0, and Hyundai’s Highway Driving Assist.