Let’s face it, Tesla’s so-called Full Self-Driving feature is likely the best-known example of an advanced driving assistance system (ADAS) that prides itself on offering a hands-free driving experience.

The problem is that Tesla itself states on its website that the feature doesn’t actually turn any car that has it into an autonomous vehicle and requires the driver to be prepared to take over driving at any time. That makes it a Level 2-capable system on the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Levels of Driving Automation chart, despite the repeated promises made by Tesla CEO Elon Musk that FSD will one day power an entire fleet of robotaxis. That still hasn’t happened yet and it doesn’t sit well with competitors like Mercedes-Benz which already sells a Level 3-capable ADAS feature.

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Where's my self-driving car?

Science fiction has been telling kids that they'll buy self-driving and flying cars by the time they become adults for hundreds of years. But ... checks calendar ... that still hasn't happened yet, although there are systems out there that can take over driving in certain situations. Robotaxi startups like Waymo are also advancing the game, but we're still way off the predictions of yesteryear's authors.

“[Rolling out hands-free driving capabilities] should be a step-by-step approach,” said Jochen Haab, Mercedes-Benz’s head of autonomous driving technology for Drive.com.au.” Do it slowly, but do it the right way. Build trust, build confidence,” Haab added.

Hinting at what is arguably the biggest promoter of self-driving tech in the industry, Tesla, which has been involved in several high-profile cases where people have been killed or injured while allegedly driving with the ADAS features enabled, Mercedes-Benz’s rep said such a stance is dangerous for the industry as a whole.

“We're concerned about others, let's say, promising too much,” Haab said. “That's not the way we approach things. The problem is, if things are overpromised or underperform, even if it's very seldom, the entire trust in autonomous driving itself loses confidence. And that's a bad thing.”

Mercedes-Benz was the first automaker in the world to get permission to sell a Level 3-capable system for use on public roads. The Drive Pilot feature can be used in Germany and the American states of California and Nevada, where it supports a maximum speed of 40 miles per hour due to regulatory limitations. BMW also has a Level 3 driving assistant on sale in Germany called Personal Pilot L3.

Tesla FSD Beta demonstration

Tesla FSD Beta demonstration. Since this screenshot was made, Tesla dropped the "beta" designation.

Referring to Mercedes-Benz’s L3 Drive Pilot, Tesla’s head of vehicle development, Lars Moravy, went on record last year saying that “it’s not really useful” and that Tesla’s system “is meant to be holistic and drive in any conditions.”

Currently, Tesla offers two tiers of its ADAS features. Autopilot comes standard on all new EVs sold by the American company and includes Traffic-Aware Cruise Control and Autosteer. Next is the $8,000 so-called Full-Self Driving Capability, which includes Navigate on Autopilot, automatic lane changes, automatic parking, summon and smart summon, automatic steering on city streets and traffic and stop sign control. Previously, there was a middle-tier option called Enhanced Autopilot but it was removed recently from the automaker’s options list.

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