Mercedes overtakes Tesla to bring first authorized Level 3 Autopilot

Tesla is known for its innovative technology that stands out in the pursuit of what is called autonomous driving. In fact, it was the brand that made this move in the market, besides its powerful batteries, the software is an asset that is worth millions in sales. However, the German giant Mercedes-Benz has announced that it will introduce its Level 3 autonomous driving system. It thus surpasses Elon Musk’s company.

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

Tesla is the brand most committed to promoting autonomous driving, with its cars bringing advanced technologies to the common driver. They are vehicles that drive themselves, detect traffic signals, choose the best route, avoid collisions, identify circumstances that may lead to accidents, and make decisions autonomously, among other actions.

The market quickly got used to this level of technology and currently all brands are launching their cars with several ADAS (Advanced driver assistance systems or Advanced Driver Assistance Systems). These mechanisms, which provide a higher level of assisted driving, are more "intelligent" and make vehicles safer and more realistic.

Mercedes takes a step forward and takes the lead

Mercedes-Benz plans to introduce a higher level of autonomous driving for its American customers by the second half of 2023, according to an announcement made last Thursday. The German carmaker's 'Drive Pilot' system is equipped with level 3 autonomous driving features based on the standards set by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).

The feature will be available as an option for 2024 Mercedes-Benz S-Class and EQ Sedan models, the company said. In Germany, the The system will cost 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 driver supervision as the vehicle drives and accelerates, Level 3 automation gives drivers more leeway. SAE defines Level 3 as a system where the user is not driving when "automated driving functions are activated - even if you are sitting in the 'driver's seat'".

To achieve Level 3, the Drive Pilot system relies on an array of sensors embedded throughout the vehicle, including optical cameras, LiDAR arrays, radar and ultrasonic sensors, and audio microphones to mute oncoming vehicles. The system even compares your data from the onboard sensors with what you get from your GPS to ensure you know exactly where you are on the road.

A driver, for example, can turn his head and eyes away from the road to talk to a passenger or watch a movie, according to some news 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 all times. This means that a driver cannot fall asleep or block their face while the vehicle is in motion. When the test driver held a camera in front of his face, Mercedes' self-driving system disengaged.

The system is also limited to certain road conditions, and Mercedes-Benz has said that the Pilot Driving mode will only allow the vehicle to accelerate up to 64 km/h.

It is already authorized for use on Nevada roads

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

Since 2015, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been committed to delivering what Tesla calls “Full Self-Driving” in its vehicles. However, its implementation has been delayed or faced criticism from lawmakers, security experts and customers.

Some critics also accused the company of misleading its customers, 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, however, the system is still rated Level 2, meaning the vehicle requires the driver's full attention.

The feature almost immediately attracted the scrutiny of 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 in which Tesla's "Full Self-Driving" or "autopilot" system was used. The accidents have already killed 19 people, the competent entity informed.

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

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