A future where your car ferries you to work while you doze off in the driver’s seat is still years away from becoming a reality. However, Mercedes is taking the first step toward such a future by accepting legal liability if its car crashes while using its Drive Pilot tech, the brand’s SAE Level 3 Advanced Driver Assistance System. Mercedes could deploy it on US roads by the end of the year, reports Road and Track.
Mercedes’ Drive Pilot allows for complete hands-off driving, with the car taking over the vehicle’s functions. However, like most emerging technologies, its scope of actual usability is quite limited. Drive Pilot is only available on roads already mapped by Mercedes, much like GM’s SuperCruise system.
The system also limits the tech’s functionality to speeds under 40 miles per hour (64 kilometers per hour) on divided highways without traffic controls, which we have experienced in a first-ride with the EQE. Mercedes only allows drivers to use the technology in decent weather conditions during the daytime.
However, the system can navigate many of the sudden events that can surprise drivers. If Drive Pilot detects the need for the driver to take control, the system gives them a 10-second warning before disengaging, allowing drivers time to focus their attention back on the road ahead. That’s what the system does when it encounters an emergency vehicle, using microphones and cameras to detect the cars before alerting the driver to take over.
Mercedes has already received approval from Germany to use the tech on its roads, with Mercedes mapping the entirety of the country’s highways. The company also hopes that the technology will arrive on US roads by the end of the year, with the brand looking at California and Nevada as two of the first states to allow such driving. Mercedes has mapped many of those states’ highways. However, don’t expect broad adoption to happen all at once.
George Massing, the company’s VP of automated driving, told Road and Track that Mercedes expects it will have to deal with each state in adopting rules to allow Mercedes to operate its Drive Pilot tech. Mercedes is already looking beyond California and Nevada as there is little federal regulation related to the tech.