At CES earlier this January, Mercedes had announced that it would become the first car company to gain certification from the SAE for a Level 3 driver assist system.
The latter became official on Thursday when the company confirmed its Drive Pilot ADAS (automated driver assist system) now sits well with the requirements of Nevada Chapter 482A, which oversees the use of autonomous vehicle technology on the roads of the state. That renders Drive Pilot the only legal Level 3 system at the moment in the US.
Level 3 capabilities, as defined by the NHTSA, would allow the vehicle to handle all aspects of driving when engaged. However, it will still need the driver to be attentive enough to take control promptly if necessary.
That is being seen as a big step up from the Level 2 systems that we see today, such as Ford’s Blue Cruise, Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving,” and GM’s Super Cruise.
According to the company, Mercedes’ Drive Pilot system can take over the bumper-to-bumper crawling duties up to 40 MPH on suitable freeway sections and where there is high traffic density without needing the driver to keep their hands on the wheel.
To perform these feats, the Drive Pilot system depends on a suite of sensors embedded throughout the vehicle, including visual cameras, LiDAR arrays, radar and ultrasound sensors, and audio mics to keep an ear out for approaching emergency vehicles.