The two flagships of Mercedes-Benz, the S-Class and the EQS, will be available for purchase with SAE Level 3 autonomous driving technology in Germany from may 17thbeing the first cars to equip this type of system in Europe.
The so-called ‘Drive Pilot’ will be offered as an option for both sedans, allowing the driver to relinquish control of the car entirely to the system under certain conditions. And it already has official prices.
In the case of Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the ‘Drive Pilot’ will cost 5,000 eurosWhile in the Mercedes-Benz EQS will cost 7,430 euros (without taxation). These figures include both the hardware and the software necessary to use the system and, for now, the brand ensures that no other subscription is necessary.
With an eye on the USA
As the legislation of each country allows it, the Drive Pilot will be made available to customers of the Stuttgart brand progressively. A) Yes, the next market could be the US.
The Stuttgart-based automaker was the first in the world to receive homologation for level 3 autonomous technology in December last year, rightly overtaking other brands such as Tesla, whose technology in this sense, ‘AutoPilot’ it still has level 2 of the five levels that exist according to SAE standards.
Although technologically it is highly evolved compared to the rest of the options on the market, it is important to remember that the ‘Drive Pilot’ does not make the vehicles equipped with it completely autonomous, but rather allows users to delegate driving to the system under certain conditions, such as in heavy traffic, and at speeds up to 60 km/h.
Under these conditions, ‘as if he were capable of thinking for himself’, he will be able to make decisions: from control speed and distance respect to other vehicles or keep the car within its lane to analyze and take into account the profile of the route, the events that occur on it and the traffic signs.
Besides, is able to react to unexpected traffic situations and manages them autonomously, such as through evasive maneuvers within the lane or by braking if necessary.
This is possible thanks to a true technological arsenal which includes, among others, LiDAR sensors, ultrasonic sensors, cameras in the front and rear windows, radars with different ranges, microphones (to detect acoustic signals from emergency vehicles) and even humidity sensors in the wheel wells.
However, even at SAE Level 3 autonomous driving, also called “conditional automation”, the driver is still a necessary element and has obligations to comply with respect to traffic regulations, as set out in specific regulations such as the United Nations Regulation No. 157.
Furthermore, it should be noted that this system can be equipped in Germany thanks to the update of the German Traffic Law (StVG), which in 2017 and for the first time in Europe, already created a legal basis for the use of this technology.
The technical approval regulations with which a system of this type can be certified did not enter into force until early 2021 and since then, Mercedes-Benz has been able to seize the opportunity.
To the extent permitted by law, the brand will be implementing this option for its customers progressively. In the words of Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes Benz Group AG and Head of Marketing and Sales:
“Mercedes-Benz is the first manufacturer to go into series production a level 3 autonomous driving system with valid international certification. As a first step, we will offer this technology in Germany in the S-Class and the EQS. At the same time, we also want to receive certification in the US by the end of the year”.
If we compare ourselves with the US, Spain is light years away from having a regulation that makes possible the expansion of autonomous car. In fact, the DGT considers that it is better to leave it “for closed circuits or routes”.
At least, since the new Road Safety Law came into force last March 2022, a mention of the automated vehicle has already been included in the text for the first time with the aim of regulate its use and development in anticipation of the future and in the face of technology such as that of SAE Level 3 driving systems.
At the moment, in Spain, the closest thing is still Level 2, like that of the ‘Tesla’s AutoPilot’, which is currently offered in two versions: The most basic includes adaptive cruise control with automatic lane change for highways and motorways. In addition to the ‘Smart Summon’ with which he parks and unparks alone and represents an extra 3,800 euros.
For its part, the recently updated ‘AutoPilot FSD’, (Full-Self Driving, which is also categorized as SAE Level 2), has recently added city driving, being able to react to traffic lights and STOP signs. It is also an optional and its price amounts to 7,500 euros (both in Spain and in Germany). Soon it will also include the autogyro in the city.
Source: Motorpasión by www.motorpasion.com.
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