Mercedes-Benz has met German legal requirements for a Level 3 autonomous driving system, potentially paving the way for the system to be offered in other countries.
The OEM announced that the German Federal Motor Transport Authority had granted a “system approval” on the basis of technical approval regulation UN-UN-R157, “thus paving the way for the offer of such system at international level, provided that national legislation allows it â.
SAE International defines Level 3 vehicles as those with partial autonomous driving capabilities that allow drivers to take their hands off the wheel and take their eyes off the road. They can perform all driving tasks on certain roads, and up to certain speeds, but require a human operator to be ready to take control if necessary.
The Mercedes-Benz system, called Drive Pilot, will be offered on the manufacturer’s S-Class vehicles in the first half of 2022.
For now, Drive Pilot will be usable on 8,197 motorway miles in Germany. Mercedes-Benz said “extensive testing” for Drive Pilot is underway in the United States and China, and the technology will be rolled out to other countries when there is a “national legal framework.”
Drive Pilot may have the most comprehensive set of ADAS hardware put on a production car to date. In addition to the range of cameras, radar units and ultrasonic sensors included in the driver assistance package, Drive Pilot also includes light detection and telemetry (lidar) units; a rear window mounted camera and microphones, to detect hazard warning lights and sirens; and a humidity sensor in the wheel arch. It is a set that Mercedes-Benz describes as “essential for automated driving under conditions in complete safety”.
Lidar units measure distance by illuminating a target with laser light and measuring the reflected light with a sensor. The differences in laser return time and wavelengths give an image of the object in front, how far away it is, and how fast it can move in a particular direction.
The use of lidar has not yet been widely adopted by OEMs for a number of reasons. The units are expensive and there were some technical issues to be resolved as well. But they present themselves as key components of semi-autonomous vehicles.
In addition to sensor data, Drive Pilot extracts data from a high-definition digital road map, which provides information on road geometry, traffic signs and unexpected events, such as accidents or construction. . Mercedes-Benz said this is updated through a “backend connection”.
âFor many years, we have been working to realize our vision of automated driving. With this LiDAR-based system, we have developed innovative technology for our vehicles that offers customers a unique and luxurious driving experience and gives them what matters most: time â, Markus SchÃ¤fer, Member of the Board of Directors of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, chief technology officer responsible for development and purchasing, said in a statement.
âWith the approval of the authorities, we have now achieved a breakthrough: we are the first manufacturer to put automated conditional driving into series production in Germany. With this milestone we are once again proving our pioneering work in automated driving and also initiating a radical paradigm shift. For the first time in 136 years of automotive history, the vehicle takes on the task of dynamic driving under certain conditions.
Mercedes-Benz’s Drive Pilot system goes even further than GM’s Ultra Cruise system, which will debut on select models in 2023. Ultra Cruise is a Level 2 system, a semi-autonomous technology that requires the driver to do so. attention at all times.
Like Drive Pilot, Ultra Cruise draws on data from lidar units, cameras and radar sensors, and is inspired by a digital roadmap.
This fall, Lucid Motors became the first OEM to offer a production car with lidar units in the North American market. Lucid’s system, called DreamDrive Pro, includes 14 visible light cameras, five radar units, four panoramic cameras, and ultrasonic sensors throughout the exterior of the vehicle, in addition to the lidar unit.
Lucid says Dream Drive Pro is “is upgradeable for Level 3 functions as they become available through live updates.”
Mercedes-Benz does not appear to be the first OEM to pass the Level 3 regulatory hurdle. On March 4, Honda announced that it would begin leasing Honda Legend EX vehicles equipped with the automaker’s Honda Sensing Elite ADAS package, which had been approved by the Japanese government for level 3 driving.
Honda said the Legend EX equipped with Honda Sensing Elite, offered only in the Japanese market, is part of its efforts to create a collision-free society based on its global safety slogan, “Safety for All.” “
Like the GM and Mercedes-Benz systems, Honda Sensing Elite relies on high-definition digital maps and a robust set of five lidar transmitters, five radar sensors and two front cameras.
The controls for the Drive Pilot are located in the rim of the steering wheel above the thumbholes on the right and left. If the driver activates Drive Pilot, the system regulates speed and distance and guides the vehicle in the lane. (Provided by Mercedes-Benz)
Drive Pilot allows drivers to take their attention away from driving, allowing them to write e-mails, surf the Internet or watch a movie. (Provided by Mercedes-Benz)
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