Faster than Tesla, Mercedes is launching its self-driving cars this month

BFM Business

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The manufacturer will sell the Mercedes S-Class in Germany in a few days, which will allow the driver to leave the steering wheel in some cases.

Watching a movie when it is blocked on the highway: this will be able to market Mercedes-Benz’s “Drive Pilot” system from mid-May in Germany, ahead of Tesla in the competitive position of the so-called “level 3” autonomous driving. .

The system, which allows you to get your hands off the steering wheel and look away from the road in some cases, will be offered to buyers of the two most expensive models of the German brand, the S-Class and the electric equivalent EQS, for 5,000 and 7,430. euros plus tax respectively, according to an announcement on Friday.

The “Drive Pilot” as it will be sold, however, can drive the vehicle without human intervention only in certain specific situations: in case of heavy traffic on the highways, with a maximum speed of 60 km / h.

Intervention in less than 10 seconds

The device allows the driver to check emails, browse the internet or watch a movie on the car’s main screen.

“Customers can relax or work,” says Mercedes-Benz.

But the pilot must be able to intervene at any time in less than ten seconds if his system so requests. Otherwise, the car stops automatically “safely”.

To analyze its environment and decide on maneuvers, the EQS and S-Class rely on a large number of sensors, including a LiDAR (laser range) system from equipment manufacturer Valeo. From driver assistance to unmanned vehicles, the autonomy of a vehicle has five levels.

At Tesla, autonomous driving is currently “level 2” and requires a careful driver at all times, who will oversee the operations of the in-vehicle computer.

Elon Musk’s company, a pioneer in electric and autonomous transportation, has also come under fire from the US regulator, which accuses it of ignoring its recommendations for the driver assistance system.

Pioneering Germany

Mercedes-Benz received last December the first global approval for the purchase of highly autonomous vehicles according to the UN-R157 standard, where local law allows it. After Germany, the manufacturer says it wants to get a “by the end of the year” license for mass marketing in California and Nevada.

Germany is a European leader in autonomous driving: since 2017, level 3 driving has been authorized there. The Audi maker thought of incorporating this technology into its flagship, the A8, before retiring.

At the end of 2020, Japan became the first country in the world to adopt a level 3 autonomous system on public roads, integrated in Honda Legend, which will be available in limited edition in the spring of 2021. The Stellantis group (Peugeot-Fiat) plans to participate to implement in 2024 its first level 3 system, developed with BMW.

Frederic Bianchi

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