The California Department of Motor Vehicles approved Mercedes-Benz’s automated driving system on Thursday, June 08, 2023. The German automaker’s autonomous driving tech received approval before Tesla Full Self-Driving.
Mercedes-Benz’s approval from the California DMV permits it to sell and lease vehicles with its autonomous driving system. The state DMV approved the Level 3 Mercedes-Benz “DRIVE PILOT system, a significant step towards accepting autonomous driving tech in the United States.
For background, there are at least six levels of driving automation, from 0 autonomy to Level 5 autonomy. Levels 0 to 2 require human monitoring while driving on roads. However, by Level 3, the car’s autonomous system handles road monitoring. As such, Mercedes-Benz’s DRIVE PILOT system should not require human interaction with the vehicle often.
Synopsis calls Level 3 autonomy “conditional automation” since human drivers might need to override the system once in a while and take over some tasks. However, Drive Pilot should be able to fully detect the vehicle’s environment and assess appropriate driving tasks to maneuver around the area.
In comparison, Tesla’s Autopilot is classified as Level 2 autonomy, which still requires human monitoring. However, some consider Tesla’s Full Self-Driving capabilities on par with Drive Pilot. Some FSD beta testers might even argue that Tesla’s autonomous tech exceeds Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot.
Given the complexity and safety concerns surrounding autonomous vehicles, the California DMV has set some ground rules for the Mercedez-Benz Drive Pilot system. For one, drivers can only use the system on highways during daylight. Vehicles using Drive Pilot may not exceed 40 miles per hour either.
The German automaker plans to make Drive Pilot available for 2024 S-Class and EQS sedan vehicles in the United States. With California’s approval, Drive Pilot is allowed on highways in the Bay Area, Central Valley, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Diego. Nevada approved Drive Pilot earlier this year, so the tech can be used on the interstate highway connecting Southern California to Nevada.