Mercedes-Benz is making headlines as the first automaker to introduce Level 3 autonomous vehicles to the United States, marking a significant milestone in the evolution of self-driving technology.

While Tesla has garnered attention with its “Full Self-Driving” system, which aims for Level 4 or Level 5 autonomy, it is Mercedes-Benz that has officially achieved Level 3 automation, according to SAE International’s standards. Level 3 vehicles can drive themselves under specific conditions but may require the driver to intervene when necessary.

Mercedes-Benz’s Level 3 automation, known as Drive Pilot, is available in select models like the EQS and S-Class sedans. This system operates in clear weather conditions during the day, on designated freeways in California and Nevada, and at speeds below 40 miles per hour. Notably, if all conditions are met, drivers can momentarily take their eyes off the road and release the steering wheel, a feature not offered by Tesla’s Autopilot or Full Self-Driving systems, which fall under Level 2 automation.

The Drive Pilot system, announced by Mercedes-Benz last September and launched in the U.S. in December, has already made its way into the hands of customers in California. While the scope of Level 3 autonomy may seem limited compared to higher levels, it represents a significant step forward in the development and adoption of self-driving technology. Mercedes-Benz’s pioneering initiative underscores its commitment to innovation and safety in the automotive industry.

By Impact Lab