Mercedes recently announced that it had gained government approval for its Level-3 autonomous driving feature. Although the autonomous feature is only currently available with the latest S-Class and EQS production vehicles, the technology behind will likely trickle with other models from the brand in the future.
The government certification is currently only approved in the State of Nevada. Even so, attaining a Level-3 autonomous certification means that it has edged Tesla a bit for becoming the first car company to achieve such level of driver assist system. This is a monumental achievement for the company in its quest to have a fully autonomous self-driving vehicle.
The Drive Pilot feature that the latest S-Class and EQS Merc sedans are equipped with meets Nevada’s “minimal risk condition”. This requires autonomous level of 3 or higher to a full autonomous self-driving vehicle. As such, the autonomous feature equipped in these Mercedes’ means they are allowed to operate on public streets. Even though the State does not issue permits or licenses over the level of automation your autonomous vehicle has, Mercedes certifies that their Drive Pilot system meets the minimal risk condition that the State requires.
Hands-free driving on the highway is not a new technology as many carmakers also have such system equipped in their high-end vehicles. However, many of these systems are just on Level 2, meaning drivers of said vehicles still need to keep eyes on the road. A Level 3 system that Mercedes has means that drivers can play games on their car’s infotainment screen provided their face is visible to the on-board camera. Taking a nap or riding in the back of the car will make the system disengage.