Mercedes beats Tesla, sells Level 3 autonomous cars on US soil

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Mercedes beats Tesla, sells Level 3 autonomous cars on US soil​


Mercedes began offering autonomous driving in Germany in May 2022 and debuted the service in the US in December last year.​

https://interestingengineering.com/author/ameya-paleja

Ameya Paleja

Published: Apr 29, 2024 08:24 AM EST

INNOVATION

Mercedes beats Tesla, sells Level 3 autonomous cars on US soil

Representational image of a Mercedes car Julie Deshaies/iStock

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German luxury brand Mercedes has beaten Tesla and has already sold a vehicle with Level 3 autonomous driving capabilities on US soil, according to a Fortune report. The feature called Drive Pilot allows the driver to take their eyes off the road and hands off the steering wheel under certain conditions.

Elon Musk has been touting Tesla’s Full Self Driving (FSD) features for years. Last month, Version 12 of FSD was released with a Supervised tag, completing a long-promised task of taking FSD out of beta. Yet, the superior features that Musk speaks about allow Tesla cars to stay in their lanes, brake in case of an emergency, and warn the driver about blind spots but require the driver to keep their attention on the road and hands on the wheel at all times.

According to the classification used by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), Tesla’s FSD is still very much at Level 2 regarding autonomous driving, with Level 5 being fully autonomous, requiring no human input.

How does Mercedes’ autonomous driving work?​

Mercedes began offering Drive Pilot as a feature on its cars in Germany in May 2022. The cars went on sale in the US in December last year but only in California and Nevada, where the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMVs) have certified them.

According to the Fortune report, as many as 65 such vehicles were on sale in California. As per DMV records, one such vehicle has already been delivered to a California resident.

If you are worried that this particular resident might begin to behave like a few Tesla owners, whose little regard for the rules to be followed while using FSD caused multiple accidents, the Mercedes option sounds much safer.

Drive Pilot Level 3 has been authorized only when multiple conditions are met. It has to be used during the day when the car is traveling below speeds of 40 miles (64 km) per hour. Moreover, the tech can only be deployed on selected freeways in Nevada and California that have been approved by Mercedes. When the vehicle alerts, the driver needs to resume control.

The road ahead​

Drive Pilot is available to US customers for a subscription price of $2,500 per year on the EQS Sedans and S-class cars. The price is steep, considering that the service works in only two US states and has been offered in Europe for as little as US $5,300 (5000 euros) for a three-year membership at its lower end.

While one would assume that the service will grow to include other states as well, if the FSD experience has taught us something, it is that autonomous driving isn’t that straightforward to deploy.

Mercedes is also testing turquoise lights for tail lights, headlights, and rearview mirrors as identification signs for other drivers and law enforcement agencies that the car is being driven autonomously. But all this looks more like preparation for the next step, Level 4 autonomous driving, which might seem obvious but is a much bigger mountain to climb.

While in Level 3, the car can alert the driver to take control, Level 4 systems are much more sophisticated and need a driver to intervene only when the system fails. This effectively means the system can even handle unexpected situations on the road, which is a much tougher ask.

Interestingly, Level 4 autonomous driving is already deployed in the US, and services like Waymo and GM’s Cruise operate fleet vehicles with such capabilities. However, these fleets are owned and operated by the companies, and the tech isn’t sold to individual car owners. Cruise’s license was suspended last year after one of its vehicles dragged a pedestrian for 20 feet.

The question remains: How well is Tesla equipped to respond to this development?

This report contains information that first appeared in Fortune.
 

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™BlackPearl The Empress™

Long Live the Empire
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The brand is clearly on the decline. Most people know at this point that they're a scam and Elon who was regarded as a genius has been talking too much and proved he'll pretty slow.
 
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