This news means Mercedes-Benz is the first car manufacturer with authorization to introduce such an SAE Level 3 system in a standard-production vehicle for use on public freeways in the most populous state in the U.S.
When Will the Drive Pilot Become Available?
Drive Pilot will be available in the U.S. market as an option for the model year 2024 Mercedes‑Benz S-Class and EQS Sedan models, with the first cars delivered to customers in late 2023.
The state of Nevada already confirmed the compliance of the system with state regulations in January 2023.
"Mercedes-Benz DRIVE PILOT is the world's only SAE Level 3 system with internationally valid type approval,” the company said in its news release. “It builds on a very robust foundation, setting new industry standards. Drive Pilot uses a highly sophisticated vehicle architecture based on redundancy with a multitude of sensors enabling comfortable and safe conditionally automated driving. The certification by the authorities in California and Nevada once again confirms that redundancy is the safe and thus the right approach."
What is L3 Driving?
L3 is the beginning of conditional autonomous driving. At this level, drivers can legally take their eyes off the road when conditions are met.
According to Mercedes-Benz, SAE Level 3 is an automated driving function that takes over certain driving tasks. A driver is still required. The driver must be ready to take control of the vehicle at all times when prompted to intervene by the vehicle, according to the company.
Mercedes-Benz’s Priorities, Outlook
Mercedes-Benz mentioned its top priority with a system such as Drive Pilot includes high demands on operational reliability.
A vehicle equipped with the optional Drive Pilot system has redundant steering and braking actuators and a redundant on-board electrical system so that it remains maneuverable even if one of these systems fails and a safe handover to the driver can be ensured.
As for the future, the company said it is focusing on SAE Level 3 conditionally automated driving with the ultimate goal of driving at speeds of up to 80 mph in its final iteration.