Mercedes-Benz has announced plans to bring DRIVE PILOT, their Level 3 conditionally automated driving system, to the United States.

This makes Mercedes the first automaker approved to offer Level 3 autonomous driving in a production vehicle authorized for use here in the states. Nevada is the first to confirm the compliance of the system with state regulations, with Mercedes expecting to expand to California later this year.

Operators can engage the system using the steering wheel-mounted controls once the vehicle is in suitable conditions (for example, only up to 40 mph), and then the car takes it from there, controlling things like speed and distance. The route and any interruptions on it are taken into account, along with traffic signs. Evasive maneuvers within the lane or braking maneuvers are also controlled.

This may sound similar to other systems on the road, but the key difference is that DRIVE PILOT will not require drivers to routinely grab ahold of the wheel. And while engaged, certain applications can be enabled on the central display that are otherwise inaccessible while on the move.

Various sensors, like a high-precision GPS and LiDAR, make it all work. There are even microphones embedded to detect emergency vehicles, and a road wetness sensor in the wheel well. Redundant steering and braking actuators, as well as a redundant electrical system, are incorporated into DRIVE PILOT optioned vehicles. If these systems were to fail, the vehicle will prompt the driver to resume control, eventually stopping in a safe manner if the driver does not respond. The vehicle will assume the driver is in distress; an emergency call system will engage, hazards will flash and doors will unlock for first responders to get inside without smashing any glass.

The DRIVE PILOT system will debut on 2024 S-Class and EQS sedan models. Customers can expect to see deliveries in the second half of 2023, and we’ll be sure to give it a thorough Road Test treatment once available– so stay tuned!