Mercedes-Benz will begin allowing consumers to order its DRIVE PILOT Level 3 self-driving assistant starting May 17, 2022, in Germany. The technology will be available as an option on the brand's flagship all-electric EQS sedan, as well as the iconic gas-powered S-Class.

Upon activating Mercedes' Drive Pilot, owners can allow the car to drive itself in certain scenarios and under various conditions. For example, Green Car Congress notes that Drive Pilot can be used in heavy and congested areas, but only on "suitable motorway sections" at speed of up to 37 mph.

Like related Level 2 driver-assistance systems, Mercedes' Level 3 technology handles driving speed, following distance, and steering. In the meantime, it keeps tabs on a preset route and traffic signs and signals. The system can also brake and/or maneuver to avoid potential situations.

This all makes sense since the Drive Pilot technology is based on the Mercedes Driving Assistance Package, though the Level 3 system adds additional sensors, such as LiDAR and cameras. In addition, there are ultrasonic and moisture sensors added.

Mercedes' Drive Pilot costs an additional €5,000 ($5,265) to add to the S-Class. Meanwhile, EQS owners will have to pony up  €7,430 ($7,823) due to the need to add two packages to get the feature. In order to add Drive Pilot, the EQS must first be equipped with the Mercedes Driving Assistance Package mentioned above, which costs an extra €2,430 ($2,559).

The German luxury brand plans to use the upcoming launch in Germany as a stepping stone to getting Drive Pilot approved in the US. If the technology proves successful in Germany, Mercedes will begin working on details to achieve regulatory approval in California and Nevada. The approval in two US states could come as soon as the end of 2022.

Britta Seeger, member of the board of management at Mercedes shared:

"Mercedes-Benz is the first manufacturer to put a Level 3 system with international valid certification into series production. As a first step, we are offering this world-leading technology in Germany in the S-Class and the EQS. At the same time, we also want to receive certification in the US by the end of the year.”

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