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Mercedes-benz Drive Pilot: The Future Of Automated Driving Is Here
Mercedes-Benz has achieved a major milestone in the field of automated driving by introducing the world’s first certified SAE Level 3 system for the U.S. market. The Drive Pilot system will be available in select models of the EQS sedan and the S-Class starting in late 2023 in California and Nevada. Drive Pilot will allow drivers to take their hands off the wheel and their feet off the pedals in certain traffic situations while the car takes over the dynamic driving task. However, drivers will still need to pay attention to the road and be ready to resume control when prompted by the system.
What is SAE Level 3, and why is it important?
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) defines six levels of automation for vehicles, ranging from Level 0 (no automation) to Level 5 (full automation). Level 3, also known as conditional automation, is a significant step up from Level 2, which is currently the most common level of automation in the market. Level 2 systems, such as Tesla’s Autopilot or GM’s Super Cruise, can assist the driver with steering, acceleration, and braking, but they require the driver ...
... to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road at all times. Level 3 systems, on the other hand, can perform the entire driving task under specific conditions, such as on highways with clear lane markings and low traffic density. In these scenarios, the driver can relax and engage in other activities, such as watching a video or browsing the internet, as long as they remain alert and ready to take over when the system requests it.
Level 3 automation is a major technological breakthrough because it involves a shift of responsibility from the driver to the vehicle. This means that the vehicle must be able to monitor its own performance and the environment and handle any situations that may arise within its operational domain. It also means that the vehicle must be able to communicate clearly and effectively with the driver and provide sufficient time and warning for the driver to resume control when needed. Furthermore, Level 3 automation requires a high level of safety and reliability, as well as compliance with legal and regulatory frameworks that vary by state and country.
How does Drive Pilot work, and what are its benefits?
Drive Pilot is the result of years of research and development by Mercedes-Benz, which has been a pioneer in the field of automated driving since the invention of the automobile. Drive Pilot is based on a sophisticated system architecture that relies on multiple sensors, cameras, radars, lidars, and software to perceive and interpret the surroundings and to plan and execute the optimal driving maneuvers. Drive Pilot also uses high-definition maps and real-time data to enhance its situational awareness and decision-making.
Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot can be activated by pressing a button on the steering wheel when the car detects that the conditions are suitable for automated driving. These conditions include a speed limit of up to 130 km/h (81 mph), a divided highway with clear lane markings, daylight, good weather, and low traffic. When Drive Pilot is engaged, the driver can take their hands off the wheel and their feet off the pedals and enjoy the ride. The system will display a blue light on the dashboard and the steering wheel to indicate that it is in control. The driver can also use the MBUX infotainment system to access various entertainment and information options, such as watching a video, checking the news, or making a phone call.
Drive Pilot is designed to offer a number of benefits to the driver and the passengers, such as increased comfort, convenience, and productivity. Drive Pilot can also reduce stress and fatigue, especially in heavy traffic or congestion situations, where the system can handle tedious and monotonous driving tasks. Moreover, Drive Pilot can enhance safety and efficiency, as the system can react faster and more accurately than a human driver and can optimize the speed and distance to the vehicle ahead.
What are the limitations and challenges of Drive Pilot?
Drive Pilot is not a fully self-driving system, and it does not eliminate the need for human supervision and intervention. The driver must remain in the driver’s seat, wear a seat belt at all times, and must be able to resume control of the vehicle within 10 seconds when the system requests it. The system will issue a request to intervene when it detects that the conditions for automated driving are no longer met, such as when the speed limit exceeds 130 km/h, when the highway ends or splits, when the weather worsens, or when an emergency vehicle approaches. The system will also monitor the driver’s attention level and alertness, using a camera and sensors in the steering wheel, and will issue a warning if the driver is not paying attention or is falling asleep. If the driver does not respond to the request to intervene, the system will initiate a safe stop maneuver, bringing the vehicle to a halt on the shoulder or the emergency lane and activating the hazard lights and the emergency call system.
Drive Pilot also faces some technical and regulatory challenges that may limit its availability and functionality. For instance, Drive Pilot relies on high-definition maps that cover only certain highways and regions and that need to be constantly updated to reflect any changes in the road infrastructure or traffic rules. Drive Pilot also requires a robust and reliable communication network that can provide real-time data and connectivity to the vehicle. Additionally, Drive Pilot has to comply with different laws and regulations that govern the use of automated driving systems in different states and countries. For example, some states may require the driver to keep their hands on the wheel or to maintain a minimum level of attention, while others may allow more freedom and flexibility for the driver. Mercedes-Benz is working closely with the authorities and the stakeholders to ensure that Drive Pilot meets the highest standards of safety and legality.
What is the future of Drive Pilot and automated driving?
Drive Pilot is a milestone in the history of automated driving and a glimpse into the future of mobility. Mercedes-Benz plans to expand the availability and functionality of Drive Pilot to more models, markets, and scenarios in the coming years as the technology evolves and the regulations adapt. Drive Pilot is also part of a larger vision of Mercedes-Benz to create a holistic and intelligent ecosystem of connected and automated vehicles, services, and infrastructure that can offer a seamless and personalized mobility experience to the customers.
Drive Pilot is not the end goal but a stepping stone towards higher levels of automation and autonomy. Mercedes-Benz is already working on developing and testing Level 4 and Level 5 systems, which will enable the vehicle to drive itself without any human intervention, even in complex and dynamic urban environments. These systems will open up new possibilities and opportunities for mobility, such as robo-taxis, car-sharing, and delivery services. However, these systems will also pose new challenges and questions, such as ethical, social, and economic implications, that will require a collaborative and responsible approach from the industry, the government, and the society.
Drive Pilot is a revolutionary system that offers a new way of driving and a new way of living. It is a system that combines the best of human and machine intelligence and that enhances the comfort, convenience, safety, and efficiency of mobility. It is a system that reflects the values and the vision of Mercedes-Benz, which is to create the best or nothing. @via Panorica.
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