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Mercedes Beat Tesla to the Punch With Approval in Germany for Hands-Free Driving

And soon its Drive Pilot system may be available internationally.

Germany has cleared Mercedes-Benz's semi-autonomous driving system indicating that the firm's Drive Pilot autonomous feature may soon be available internationally ahead of Tesla's, according to a Daimler press release.

"For many years, we have been working to realize our vision of automated driving. With this LiDAR-based system, we have developed an innovative technology for our vehicles that offers customers a unique, luxurious driving experience and gives them what matters most: time. With the approval of the authorities, we have now achieved a breakthrough: We are the first manufacturer to put conditionally automated driving into series production in Germany," said in the statement Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, Chief Technology Officer responsible for Development and Purchasing.

The release went on to explain how in cars equipped with the new technology, the highly automated system allows the driver to focus on other activities while in heavy traffic or on congested highways. This has long been a dream of many carmakers, including and especially Tesla.

However, the maximum speed at which the Drive Pilot system can be used is still limited at 60 kilometers (37 miles) per hour. For now, Mercedes can provide the system only in Germany, but the firm is seeking regulatory approval in other jurisdictions as well and has stated that as soon as there is a national legal framework for conditionally automated operation it will take the necessary steps to legalize its system.

Starting from around the middle of next year, the firm's S-Class and EQS models will come with the option of Drive Pilot although no word has been thus far given on how much the novel system will cost. Tesla's Full Self-Driving (FSD) subscriptions, which still require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous, cost 99$ and 199$ a month. Would Mercedes' fully autonomous features make their system that much more expensive?

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