Mercedes-Benz has upset many pundits who expected that Tesla would be the first carmaker to attain Level-3 autonomy. The German carmaker has become the first Level-3 autonomous car maker in the United States, having achieved the certification ahead of Tesla and other contenders in the race to full self-driving cars.
What is Level-3 autonomy in self-driving technology?
Level-3 autonomy, also known as ‘conditional automation,’ is classified by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) as a mode in which all aspects of driving are handled by the for the driver in particular situations by the vehicle’s ADS (Automated Driving System). However, while the car is fully self-driving, the driver must be present at all times in case he is required to step in and take action e.g., in an emergency situation. The driver can also intervene on their own at any time.
Mercedes-Benz’s ADS, called Drive Pilot, is able to evaluate road conditions and can make informed decisions for itself, such as drive on highways even in high density traffic, accelerating past other vehicles and slow down or even stop as necessary, all of these without the input of a driver. A driver must be present though and is free to attend to other things, like attend to email, participate in a video call, or read a book.
Which Mercedes-Benz cars have Level-3 autonomy?
The latest S-Class and EQS Sedan, which are currently in production, are the only two models that are certified Level-3 autonomy for now. They will hit the market before the end of 2023.
With the attainment of Level-3, Mercedes-Benz now faces the future and looks to also achieve Level-4 and level-5 autonomy, which refer to vehicles that can drive themselves under all conditions, without human intervention. These more advanced levels are still in development and may take some years to achieve.
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