Mercedes Benz to become the first to offer Level 3 autonomous driving in the US

The German carmaker has received approval in Nevada, with California next on the list.
Jijo Malayil
Mercedes autonomous car
Mercedes autonomous car

Sundry Photography/iStock 

The German automaker, Mercedes Benz, is set to become the first to offer Level 3 autonomous driving technology in the US with approvals for its Drive Pilot system in Nevada, followed by California. The announcement was made at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2023, showcasing a host of new technology

According to the German manufacturer, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Nevada has approved the application, and the required certification is expected to come through in the next two weeks. "Mercedes-Benz will be the first OEM to have a Level 3 system to offer in the US – and is optimistic that California will follow soon," said a press release

Last May, Mercedes-Benz became the first OEM in the world to receive international certification for conditionally automated driving. The company has been selling vehicles with Level 3 self-driving systems in Germany.

How advanced are Level 3 autonomous systems

The Drive Pilot system can take care of driving duties up to the permitted speed of 37mph (60 km/h). The self-driving system can be used on suitable motorway sections and where traffic density is high. "This gives customers time so they can focus on certain secondary activities such as communicating with colleagues via In-Car Office, browsing the web, or relaxing while watching a movie." 

Level-3 driving systems can offer autonomous driving capabilities but still require a driver to be present and waiting to take over when prompted by the system. Mercedes is currently offering its Drive Pilot technology in Europe on its S-Class variants and EQS sedans.

Automatic Lane Change feature on offer

Mercedes will also offer its Automatic Lane Change (ALC) feature in the North American market this year. The technology lets the car "automatically initiate a lane change and overtake slower vehicles with the cruise control engaged."

ALC comes as an advanced feature added to the carmaker's existing SAE Level 2 automated driving system on offer. This means the driver is required to be responsive at all times. ALC mainly relies on the adaptive distance cruise control function and the active steering assist in fulfilling its functions. "The car continuously monitors its surroundings via its array of radar sensors and cameras to overtake slower cars while on the motorway." Once the overtake is completed, the system diverts the car back into the original lane. 

The system enables the car to change lanes by itself to help follow the "active route guidance when approaching exit ramps or freeway junctions."

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