Mercedes-Benz has announced Drive Pilot, a Level 3 autonomous driving system, will launch in the US before the end of 2023. While some may say this move places Mercedes-Benz ahead of its competitors, including Tesla, in the race to offer advanced autonomous driving capabilities, the system comes with a number of restrictions.
According to Mercedes-Benz USA, Drive Pilot will be initially priced at $2,500 for the first year, and with its Level 3 system certification by SAE, allows for “conditional autonomy.” This means that while engaged, the vehicle remains in control, but the driver must be prepared to take over when needed.
Drive Pilot is powered by LiDAR, cameras, radar, ultrasonic sensors, and a digital HD map, but can only self-drive under specific conditions. One of those is that it will only work on freeways in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego, and Las Vegas. Its limited availability is also due to state regulations, which is why it will initially launch in California and Nevada.
Additionally, Drive Pilot will only operate in heavy traffic at speeds under 40mph (64km/h). Mercedes-Benz says it plans to raise that limit to 70mph (113km/h) when federal and state laws permit.
Here are the other conditions and limitations for Drive Pilot:
- Must be following another vehicle
- No interchanges
- No inclement weather
- No flashing lights in vicinity
- No lane changes
- Daytime only
When Drive Pilot is active however, drivers can browse the web, watch YouTube, and play mini-games like Shuffle Puck on the central screen.
The automaker has previously confirmed it will accept full legal responsibility for any crashes when Drive Pilot is active.