According to The Drive, the Mercedes-Benz EQS will be the first vehicle to offer semi-autonomous driving in the USA this year. The conditional driver automation system Drive Pilot of the German brand is the first to receive regulatory approval for operation in the USA, surpassing similar technologies from Tesla and Honda.
Drive Pilot is a level 3 semi-autonomous driving system that handles all aspects of the driving task, while as a driver you can take over driving if you wish, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. This conditional automation means that the person sitting in the driver’s seat can basically do anything he wants, including reading a book or watching videos on the vehicle’s infotainment system, as long as he is ready to take control in case the conditions change.
Mercedes says that its system, which will be available in both the EQS and its gas-powered equivalent, the S-Class, will be able to operate a vehicle at speeds below 40 miles per hour on suitable motorway sections and at high traffic density. Since it is a level 3 (or conditional) system, it prompts its human driver to take control when the traffic flow increases, road conditions change, or an emergency vehicle is detected.
The system is already technically available for the EQS and the S-Class, but can only be used in Germany. It will now be available in the United States after regulatory authorities in California and Nevada have approved the system for operation on their roads. Why did Mercedes obtain the approval of these two states? Both have their share of traffic. The high level of introduction of electric vehicles in California probably did not hurt either.
The Drive Pilot will make its debut on the roads of California and Nevada in a fleet of EQS sedans later this year. The delivery of cars of the 2024 model year with this function will begin at the beginning of 2024. However, the technology will not be standard. Instead, it will be available as a subscription service that starts at $2,500 in the first year. That’s a similar price to Tesla’s fully autonomous technology – which led to the recall of 360,000 electric vehicles earlier this year.The difference is that Drive Pilot effectively offers level 3 semi-autonomous driving.