Benz beats Tesla to the punch

Riley Riley

Move over Tesla, Mercedes-Benz coming through.

Benz has become the first car company in the world to receive approval for Level 3 automated driving.

Level 3 is the third in a series of five steps on the road to fully automated, self driving cars, without the need for any human intervention.

It means the driver is legally able to take his eyes off the road and perform other tasks, but must still be ready to intervene if the need arises.

Which secondary activities drivers are legally permitted to perform depends on local road traffic regulations.

The approval applies to the Mercedes-Benz EQS and S-Class.

As a result, the first customers will be able to buy an S-Class with Drive Pilot in the first half of 2022, enabling them to drive in conditionally automated mode at speeds of up to 60 km/h in heavy traffic or congested situations on suitable stretches of highway in Germany.

The special Drive Pilot equipment takes the strain off the driver and allows them to perform ancillary tasks on the central display such as online shopping or sending emails in their in-car office.

The system approval also applies to the EQS.

“For many years, we have been working to realize our vision of automated driving,” says Benz’s Markus Schäfer.

Schäfer is a Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, Chief Technology Officer responsible for Development and Purchasing.

“With this LiDAR based system, we have developed an innovative technology for our vehicles that offers customers a unique, luxurious driving experience and gives them what matters most: time.

“With the approval of the authorities, we have now achieved a breakthrough: We are the first manufacturer to put conditionally automated 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 over the dynamic driving task under certain conditions.

“At the same time, we are pleased that Germany is continuing its pioneering role in automated driving with this approval.”

Regulation UN-R157 under which such a system can be certified did not come into effect until the beginning of 2021.

Benz is initially offering Drive Pilot on more than 13,000km of highways in Germany.

Extensive test drives for this systems are already underway in other countries, including the USA and China.

As soon as there is a national legal framework for conditionally automated operation in additional markets, the technology will be rolled out step by step.


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