Mercedes Benz gains first approval for Level 3 automated driving in the US, but only at low speeds in heavy traffic

Mercedes Benz has announced it has been granted the first approval for Level 3 autonomous driving on American soil. While there have been reports that they have overtaken Tesla in the self driving space, the German automaker’s software has some strict conditions attached and only works in very specific scenarios.

Mercedes Benz received approval from Nevada for Level 3 features for its Drive Pilot program. This means the car could handle all the driving alone, although a driver must be on hand to take over control at any time. However, the approval only allows speeds up to 40 mph when the system is engaged.

Drive Pilot will also only work on appropriate freeway sections in high traffic, meaning it is only good for stop and go traffic on freeways. Drive Pilot uses cameras, radar, microphones, and lidar sensors to interact with the environment.

Nevada accepted Drive Pilot meets its “minimal risk condition” requirement for self-driving vehicles to stop if the system has a fault.

With Level 3, drivers can be more relaxed than with Level 2. For example, they can turn their heads to talk to their passengers or even play a game on the central console. However, it must be noted that drivers are not allowed to take a nap or ride in the backseat.

Consumer Reports rated Blue Cruise the best among active driving assists, with Mercedes Benz’s Drive Pilot and Tesla’s Autopilot ranked 3rd and 7th, respectively.

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