Starting from May 17, it will be possible to order a Mercedes with a third-level autopilot on the German market. So far, the Drive Pilot system is offered only for two models. In the case of the S-class sedan, you will have to pay 5,000 euros for it, and for the electric liftback EQS, such an autopilot will cost 7430 euros, because this price also includes the Driver Assistance Package Plus, which the S-class already has “in the database”.
Mercedes-Benz proudly claims that Drive Pilot became the first autopilot of the third level, but there are many nuances. We already talked about them in detail last December, when the system was certified in Germany. Firstly, the Honda Legend sedan became a pioneer in the field of legalization of the third-level autopilot in the spring of 2021. However, Honda has produced only 100 such cars for the Japanese market, so formally Mercedes has every reason to claim the international championship on an industrial scale. The circulation of “unmanned” Mercedes is not limited, and by the end of this year, the company expects to certify Drive Pilot in the states of California and Nevada.
Well, secondly, the Mercedes autopilot still has very limited functionality. According to the certificate, it is allowed to operate only at speeds up to 60 km/h, only within one lane (realignments are prohibited), and only on permitted road sections. At the time of certification in Germany, only 13,191 km of roads are suitable for this — these are highways without intersections with a dividing barrier between oncoming traffic, where the movement of pedestrians and cyclists is prohibited. Simply put, Drive Pilot consists only of sluggish traffic jams on the autobahn.
And another important point is that the driver must remain in his seat, be fastened, and be ready to return to control at the first request of the system. His activity is monitored by a separate camera in the cabin, so it will not be possible to sleep in traffic. If this did not happen within ten seconds after the electronics required the driver’s intervention, then Drive Pilot turns on the emergency light and smoothly stops the car in the occupied lane.
Technically, the Mercedes autopilot of the third level differs from adaptive cruise control by the presence of Lidar: it is located on the front-facing. Moreover, if the Lidar of the S-class is successfully disguised in one of the cells of the radiator grille, then the EQS electric car immediately catches the eye, and in addition, another imitation plug is installed for symmetry. There are also radars and cameras in the arsenal. Light indicators and buttons are built into the steering wheel rim, with which the driver activates the system and confirms his involvement.
The “permitted” sections of the road for autopilot are stitched in the navigation system. Gradually, their length will increase. But even in Europe, the use of third-level autopilots on public roads has so far been legalized only by Germany (although France is also close to this). And this, by the way, is one of the weighty reasons why Tesla is in no hurry to certify its FSD (Full Self Driving) system for the third level of autonomy, although its functionality is much wider than that of Mercedes.