On 8th of June the Department of Motor Vehicles of California approved Mercedes-Benz to sell or lease self-driving cars to the public, despite Tesla’s gains with its Full-Self Driving (FSD) technology. Mercedes is the first carmaker to obtain such an approval thus beating out the competition in California. In January, Mercedes became the first automaker to introduce the so-called “Level 3 Hands-free and eyes-free” self-driving tech to the U.S. when it gained approval in Nevada.
Mercedes’ Drive Pilot is a hands-free driving mode, but it goes beyond that, allowing the driver to turn away from the road, which makes it eyes-free. Drivers, though, have to be prepared to take control when necessity arises and if the internal cameras of the car do not see the face of the driver, the system will be disengaged. The conditional system allows drivers to disengage their attention from the road at “suitable freeway sections where there is high traffic density.”
“In the modern world, time is one of the most precious commodities, and giving back time to our customers is a core element in our strategy to build the world’s most desirable cars,” Mercedes CTO, Markus Schafer, said in January. “Our Drive Pilot takes a major step forward in achieving that, and places us at the very forefront of innovation in the crucially important field of automated driving.”
Mercedes’ Drive Pilot, in addition to cameras and road-wetness sensors, uses technology called LiDAR (light detection and ranging) where laser pulses to create 3D imaging of its surroundings, which allows for safe navigation.
Mercedes said in March of 2022 that it will accept full liability for any accidents caused by one of its vehicles when Drive Pilot is active.