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29 Jan, 2023
2 min time to read

Drive Pilot System Approved for Use in Nevada at Speeds Up to 40 mph.

Mercedes-Benz announced that it was the first automaker to receive government approval in the US for a Level 3 automated driving feature. The company has self-certified in Nevada for use of its Drive Pilot system, in which the car does all the driving, but the driver needs to be ready to take control at a moment's notice.

According to Mercedes, the Drive Pilot technology meets Nevada's "minimal risk condition" requirement that requires Level 3 or higher "fully autonomous" vehicles to be able to stop if there is a malfunction in the system. The system acts similarly to many of the Level 2 systems that are available in the US, including accelerating and decelerating based on traffic ahead, staying centered in the lane, performing automated lane changes and blind spot detection. Drive Pilot will only operate at speeds up to 40 mph on suitable freeway sections and where there is high traffic density, making it ideal for heavy, stop-and-go traffic.

The Drive Pilot system requires drivers to keep their face visible to the vehicle's in-car cameras at all times, but they can also turn their head to talk to a passenger or play a game on the vehicle's infotainment screen. However, the system does not allow drivers to take a nap or ride in the backseat, as regulators and safety advocates have called for more robust monitoring in the wake of previous abuse of lax driver monitoring controls in other systems.

In addition to cameras and radar, the Drive Pilot system relies on data from a lidar sensor to construct a 3D model of its surrounding environment and microphones to detect approaching emergency vehicles.

While Level 3 systems are not without their risks, with most autonomous vehicle operators, including Waymo and Cruise, avoiding them in favor of Level 4 technology, Mercedes hopes to receive approval to begin offering its Level 3 system to drivers in California later this year. Other automakers, including Audi, BMW, and Volvo, have also announced they are working on their own Level 3 systems.

The company's announcement represents a significant milestone in the development of autonomous driving technology, as Level 3 systems provide a bridge between current driving systems and fully autonomous vehicles. With the addition of Mercedes-Benz to the list of companies developing Level 3 systems, it is clear that this technology is quickly becoming a key area of focus for the automotive industry.