Mercedes-Benz says it accepts responsibility for the safety of its DRIVE PILOT Level 3 hands-free autonomous driving system –

Author: Eric Walz

Automakers around the world are striving to develop Level 2 and above autonomous driving systems for their vehicles that allow, for the most part, supervised autonomous driving capability on the highway.

But Mercedes-Benz has always been a pioneer in safety innovation and has developed a level 3 system called “Drive Pilot”, which allows the driver to read a book or even watch a movie on the screen. infotainment system after it has been activated by the driver.

Drive Pilot takes over driving tasks at speeds below 40 mph. The system is particularly useful in stop-and-go driving situations, such as heavy traffic during rush hour.

Drive Pilot is an advanced version of the Mercedes Benz Driver Assistance Package and includes additional sensors on the vehicle to support safe SAE Level 3 automated driving.

The automaker has a high level of confidence in Drive Pilot, so much so that Mercedes-Benz says it will accept full responsibility for any accidents resulting from its use, Road & Track reports.

The Drive Pilot-equipped S-Class has a fully redundant steering and braking system, as well as a redundant electrical system. In the unlikely event that one of these redundant systems fails, control can still be returned to the driver.

The S-Class sensor suite includes lidar, cameras and microphones. Microphones and cameras can detect blue lights and audible sirens from emergency vehicles. Another innovative feature is a sensor in the S-Class’ wheel arch to detect wet road conditions that can lengthen braking distance.

Mercedes-Benz is authorized to offer its Level 3 “Eyes Off the Road” DRIVE PILOT autonomous driving system on vehicles in Germany

Drive Pilot does not require driver input, but the driver should be ready to take control if prompted by the vehicle.

In December 2021, Mercedes-Benz became the first automaker in the world to receive permission to offer its Drive Pilot autonomous driving feature as an option on vehicles sold in Germany. It is available on new S-Class models.

The highly automated Drive Pilot system allows the driver to concentrate on other activities when active in heavy traffic or on congested highways. Once in Drive Pilot mode, apps such as movie streaming or games can be activated on the vehicle’s center display that would otherwise get stuck while driving.

In Germany, drivers can legally use their mobile phone when Drive Pilot is activated, which is also a first.

When the driver activates Drive Pilot using the buttons on the steering wheel, it automatically controls vehicle speed and the distance between other vehicles, while keeping the car centered in a lane. Drive Pilot also reacts to unexpected traffic situations and manages them autonomously, such as emergency braking manoeuvres.

Drive Pilot also receives information about road geometry, route profile, traffic signs and unusual traffic events (eg accidents or works) from a digital HD map.

The exact location of the S-Class is determined using a highly accurate GPS system which is much more powerful than conventional GPS, according to Mercedes-Benz. To determine the exact position of the vehicle, data obtained from satellite navigation is matched with sensor data and data from an HD map.

“With Drive Pilot, our Level 3 conditional automated driving system, our customers gain the most valuable asset: time,” says Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management Mercedes-Benz Group AG, Chief Technology Officer responsible for development and supply. “Initially, we are offering this cutting-edge technology to our customers in Germany, but we will also roll it out to the United States by the end of this year if the legal and regulatory framework allows it.”

However, the United States currently does not have a regulatory framework surrounding the deployment of Level 3 autonomous driving systems.

All of the current systems on the market, including Tesla’s Autopilot, Ford’s Blue Cruise, and General Motors’ Super Cruise, are considered Level 2 automated systems, which means drivers should pay attention to the road at all times, as well as keeping their hands on the wheel when these systems are active.

Although Drive Pilot is considered a Level 3 system, it still relies on the driver to be ready to take control back when prompted.

If the driver fails to regain control after being promoted due to a medical emergency, the system will bring the vehicle to a controlled stop and activate the hazard warning lights. Once the vehicle has come to a complete stop, the Mercedes-Benz emergency call system is activated and the vehicle’s doors and windows are automatically unlocked, to facilitate access to the interior for first responders.

Level 3 automated systems have been permitted in Germany since 2017. According to Mercedes-Benz, there are more than 13,100 kilometers (8,140 miles) of Drive Pilot-friendly roads in Germany.

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