Mercedes introduces Level 3 Autonomous Driving to California and Nevada Roads

specific autonomous driving commands (

Level 3 autonomous driving arrives in American Mercedes vehicles, as the Drive Pilot system is set to debut by the end of 2023 in a small fleet of EQS models in California and Nevada, now renamed “Drive Pilot: First Class.”

In early 2024, Mercedes plans to deliver more vehicles equipped with the Drive Pilot system to customers purchasing EQS and Classe S models for Model Year 2024. This makes California and Nevada the first two states to approve and certify Level 3 autonomous driving on major highways, allowing drivers to take their hands off the wheel during certain driving phases.

How It Works

With Drive Pilot, Mercedes becomes fully autonomous at speeds up to 65 km/h on eligible highways, even in heavy traffic.

Once activated, the system controls speed and distance, guiding the vehicle within its lane. During an “automated” trip, you can access certain applications on the central display that would otherwise be restricted while driving. For instance, while the Mercedes drives itself, you can watch movies and stream other content.

Drive Pilot is governed by sensors around the car’s perimeter, LiDAR, a rearview camera, and microphones for detecting emergency vehicles, along with a road moisture sensor in the wheel well.

Precision to the Centimeter

The exact position of a Mercedes vehicle equipped with Drive Pilot is determined by a high-precision positioning system. It’s so precise that it can pinpoint the vehicle’s location within a few centimeters. In addition to anonymous data collected by LiDAR sensors, cameras, radars, and ultrasonic sensors, an HD digital map provides a three-dimensional image of the road and its surroundings.

This map includes information about road geometry, route characteristics, road signs, and specific traffic-related events (e.g., accidents, roadwork, or construction zones). Map data is stored in backend data centers and constantly updated.

Each vehicle also stores a copy of this map data onboard, continually comparing it with backend data and updating the local dataset as needed.

As mentioned, Drive Pilot will be installed in selected EQS and Classe S models and can be activated through the Mercedes me connect store in the United States, starting at $2,500 (approximately 2,200 euros).