Mercedes-Benz is set to launch the S class, its self-driving car, in 2020. Boasting a Level 3 assistance system, the car is the German manufacturer’s answer to the models being developed by domestic rivals Audi and BMW, though regulators have yet to give their approval.
The Paris Motor Show provided the setting for Mercedes-Benz’s announcement that its Level 3 self-driving car will launch in 2020, as reported by Numerama. While lower than the level targeted by the giants and startups of Silicon Valley (who are looking at Level 4 and even Level 5 assistance systems), German carmakers are focusing their energies on Level 3, which Mercedes’ domestic rivals Audi have already achieved.
A Level 3 system
“We are on the verge of jumping to Level 3, which is our target for the next S class,” Ola Kaellenius, who is taking over from Dieter Zetsche as Mercedes CEO, told reporters in Paris on 11 October. “That is something that you can then buy as an option, and you can proliferate it relatively quickly into higher volumes, especially with a brand like Mercedes.”
Level 3, or “conditional automation”, is an intermediate mode which allows all aspects of driving to be done for the driver in specific circumstances, although the driver must be on hand to respond to requests to intervene in situations that the system is unable to deal with, as reported by Numerama.
Technologies awaiting approval
Tesla’s Autopilot, which requires that drivers keep their eyes on the road and be prepared to take back control of the vehicle at any times, is an advanced version of a Level 2 assistance system and is therefore perfectly legal. Level 3 technologies have yet to be authorised for use on the road, however.
Regulators have some way to go to catch up with technology, which is moving fast, with Google now designing futuristic cards with no steering wheels and traditional carmakers also working on fully autonomous cars.
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