Will reality soon surpass fiction? Watching a movie when it’s jammed on the highway: that’s what Mercedes-Benz’s “Drive Pilot” system, marketed from mid-May in Germany, will allow, ahead of Tesla in the competitive niche of so-called autonomous driving “level 3”. The system, which allows you to take your hands off the steering wheel and look away from the road in certain situations, will be offered to buyers of the German brand’s two most expensive models, the S-Class and its electric counterpart EQS, for 5,000 and 7,430. euros excluding taxes respectively, according to a press release this Friday, May 6. “Drive Pilot” as it will be sold, however, can only drive the vehicle without human intervention in certain specific situations: in the event of heavy traffic on the motorways, with a maximum speed of 60 km/h.
The device allows the driver to check emails, browse the internet or watch a movie on the car’s central screen. “Customers can relax or work,” Mercedes-Benz notes. But the pilot must be able at all times to intervene in less than ten seconds if the system asks him to. Otherwise, the car automatically stops “safely”. To analyze its environment and decide on maneuvers, the EQS and the S-Class rely on a large number of sensors, including a LiDAR (laser ranging) system from the equipment supplier Valeo. From driver assistance to unmanned cars, a vehicle’s degree of autonomy has five levels.