Mercedes catches up with Tesla and brings the first authorized Level 3 Autopilot

Imagem Mercedes-Bens com Nível 3 de condução autónoma

Tesla is known for its innovative technology that stands out for pursuing what is called autonomous driving. In fact, the brand was the one that moved this market, in addition to the powerful batteries, the software is an asset that has been worth millions in sales. However, German giant Mercedes-Benz has announced that it will introduce its Level 3 autonomous driving system, surpassing Elon Musk’s company.

Level 3 requires less driver intervention, allowing you to play video games or read while driving, for example. Pandora’s box has been opened!

Tesla is the brand most committed to promoting autonomous driving, with its cars bringing advanced technologies to the everyday driver. These include vehicles that drive alone, recognize road signs, choose the best route, avoid collisions, detect conditions that could lead to accidents and make decisions autonomously.

The market quickly got used to this level of technology and currently all brands are launching their cars with a lot of ADAS (Advanced driver assistance systems or advanced driver assistance systems). These mechanisms, which provide a higher level of driver assistance, are "smart" and make vehicles safer and more pragmatic.

Mercedes takes a step forward and leads

Mercedes-Benz plans to introduce higher levels of autonomous driving for its U.S. customers by the second half of 2023, according to an announcement made last Thursday. The "Drive Pilot" system from the German car company does equipped with level 3 autonomous driving functions based on standards established by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).

The feature will be available as an option for 2024 Mercedes-Benz S-Class models and EQ's Sedan, the company said. In Germany the system costs around 5,000 euros in the S-Class and around 7,000 euros in the EQS modelaccording to Auto News Europe.

Unlike a level 2 system, which requires constant supervision from the driver while the vehicle is moving and accelerating, level 3 automation gives the driver more latitude. SAE defines level 3 as a system where the user is not driving when "automatic driving functions are activated - even if you are in the 'driver's seat'".

To reach Level 3, the Drive Pilot system relies on an array of sensors built into the entire vehicle, including visual cameras, LiDAR arrays, radar and ultrasonic sensors, and audio microphones to respond to approaching vehicles. The system even compares your data from built-in sensors to what you get from your GPS, so you know exactly where you are on the road.

For example, a driver can turn his head and eyes off the road to talk to a passenger or watch a movie, according to some information channels that have tested the Drive Pilot system.

During the demo, the test driver played Tetris and surfed the Internet while the Mercedes EQS handled all aspects of driving.

However, a level 3 system still requires the driver to be able to regain control of the vehicle at any time. This means that a driver cannot fall asleep or block their face while the vehicle is moving. When the test driver held a camera in front of his face, Mercedes' autonomous driving system failed.

The system is also limited to certain road conditions, and Mercedes-Benz has said the Pilot Driving feature only allows the vehicle to accelerate up to 40 mph.

Already authorized for use on Nevada roads

By setting a date in 2023 to bring a Tier 3 autonomous system to customers in Nevada, Mercedes-Benz appears on track to bring some of its largest EV competitors in the US, including Tesla, Ford and GM, to catch up.

Since 2015, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has pledged to deliver what Tesla calls "Full Self-Driving" to its vehicles. But its implementation has been delayed or criticized by lawmakers, security experts and customers.

Some critics also accused the company of misleading its customers by calling the company's semi-autonomous driving system "Full Self-Driving".

In November, Musk expanded the "Full Self-Driving Beta" to all North American customers, but the system is still rated at Level 2, meaning the vehicle requires the driver's full attention.

The feature almost immediately gained attention from many media outlets and critics in general, citing incidents and accidents allegedly caused by "Full SelfDriving".

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reportedly investigated 35 accidents since 2016 involving Tesla's "Full Self-Driving" or "autopilot" system. 19 people have already died in the accidents, the responsible authority said.

Mercedez-Benz said in its announcement that the technology complies with Nevada state regulations, suggesting the autonomous system will only be available to Nevada customers.