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June 12, 2023

Mercedes-Benz Unveils Hands-Free, Eyes-Off Driving in California

Mercedes-Benz secures California permit for state-of-the-art vehicles with hands-off, eyes-off driving on select highways

In an unprecedented breakthrough, renowned German automaker Mercedes-Benz has obtained an exclusive permit from California regulators, allowing them to provide vehicles equipped with an advanced automated driving system. Revolutionizing the way we drive, the cutting-edge Drive Pilot technology provides drivers with an exceptional hands-free and eyes-off journey on specific highways. With the esteemed approval of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Mercedes-Benz takes the lead in introducing this extraordinary automated driving system to the general public, setting an unprecedented benchmark for innovation in the automotive industry.

Empowered by Drive Pilot, drivers are now emancipated to fully engage in a plethora of activities while navigating the roads, ranging from indulging in captivating multimedia content to effortlessly exchanging text messages or participating in lively conversations with fellow passengers. Gone are the days of constantly juggling the steering wheel or fixating on the road ahead. Through the integration of state-of-the-art sensors, including lidar, radar, and camera, in conjunction with sophisticated software, Drive Pilot autonomously navigates through specific driving conditions, delivering a seamless and secure driving experience.

While Drive Pilot shares fundamental principles with fully autonomous systems developed by companies like Waymo, Cruise, Motional, and Zoox, it operates within distinct parameters. Mercedes' system is optimized for speeds up to 40 miles per hour during daylight hours on designated highways, excluding city or county roads, construction zones, heavy rain or fog, flooded roads, and adverse weather conditions that could impact its performance, as outlined by the DMV.

It is important to note that Drive Pilot differs from high-speed, day-and-night autonomous systems where human intervention is not anticipated.

As part of the permit's provisions, Mercedes is obliged to ensure vehicle owners view a mandatory video that comprehensively explains the system's capabilities, operation, and key instructions on how to engage and disengage the technology. Additionally, the automaker must meet stringent safety, insurance, and vehicle registration requirements specified by the DMV.

Mercedes-Benz has taken a cautious approach to the implementation of Drive Pilot, proactively seeking approval from regulatory bodies across various U.S. states, even in cases where no explicit restrictions exist. Following its initial deployment in Germany and subsequent approval from Nevada earlier this year, this recent permit issued by California signifies a momentous stride toward widespread adoption of automated driving technologies, bringing the prospect of hands-free, eyes-off driving closer to fruition.

Neil Hodgson Coyle
Neil Hodgson-Coyle
Editorial chief at TechNews180
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