One of the world’s leading luxury car brands has just received regulatory approval from the German government to operate a hands-free autonomous driving system on public roads, a feat that marks a significant stepping stone along the long and so far winding road to self-driving cars. That car company was not Tesla. In fact, attainment actually went to Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz.
With the approval, Mercedes can sell its autonomous driving package, called Drive Pilot, which will be used on parts of the German Autobahn network at a maximum speed of 37 miles per hour. It may not sound like the Hollywood version of the great autonomous transit that the industry promised, but hey, that’s a start.
Importantly, the approval would mark the Mercedes system as capable of Level 3 autonomy which, among other things, means that drivers can use the system without keeping their hands on the wheels. This differs significantly from Tesla’s more famous Level 2 systems which still require hands on the steering wheel and the driver’s eyes facing the road (although there is no lack the drivers who play it loose already with these guidelines).
Daimler said in a statement that customers will be able to buy a Mercedes S-Class equipped with its Drive Pilot system as early as the first half of 2022.
“With this LiDAR-based system, we have developed innovative technology for our vehicles that offers customers a unique, luxurious driving experience and gives them what matters most: time,” said Mercedes-Benz AG, Chief Technology Officer Markus Schäfer. In addition to navigating through the bumperto-bumpIn traffic, the company claims its system can respond to unexpected traffic situations and engage in “avoidance maneuvers” when needed.
While the news is undeniably significant, Mercedes is also tweaking it a bit. For starters, still autonomous level 3 vehicles require drivers to be ready to take the wheel when needed. There is also a speed limit condition, which significantly reduces the amount of time that any driver can meaningfully spend using this system, especially on a major highway. Still, the future of short Zoom calls is truly upon us!
What the Mercedes label will do is add insult to injury to Tesla, which has already angered German court, which in 2020 claimed that the company used the word “autopilot” for its driver assistance program was “deceptive. ” U.S. lawmakers are trying to bring together regulators investigation Tesla due to similar concerns related to Autopilotefficiency.
But in a broader sense, the bad news for Tesla is that the company that is supposed to lead the automotive industry in the future is lagging behind one of the oldest car manufacturers in industry 136-year history when it comes to AV. This is despite one CEO Elon Musk bravely declaring that Tesla could have about a million robots in operation by the end of 2020. For those holding the score, that number it is currently at zero.
Tesla promised almostfuture, fully autonomous driving, the main point of its long-term vision of the company. It is this vision in which a series of autonomous Tesla taxis roam the city streets with passengers streaming Netflix or go through the latest patched version Cyberpunk 2077, who probably played a role in the recent $ 1 trillion company value. But Tesla is definitely not there yet, and realistically not the other big car manufacturers either.
This is part of an article in which we try to curb the over-promises of the autonomous vehicle industry. Despite calling the latest driver assistance feature “Complete independent driving,“Tesla’s most advanced cars on the roads are really just that capable achieving Level 2 autonomy on a six-point scale. Experts generally agree that Level 4 autonomy will be needed for passengers to sit up and raise their legs without worrying that they will suddenly take control of the car. Several companies, such as Waymo, Argo AI, Amazon-supported Zoom, and GM’s Cruise subsidiary, are vying to make Level 4 driverless cars a reality in the next few years, but those timelines are optimistic at best.
Research firm IDC estimates somewhere around 850,000 of these vehicles between level 3 and 5 they could get to the real streets around the world by 2024. It’s nothing, but it’s still just a small fraction of all available cars and will probably come with a premium price for some time to come. That same IDC report shows tremendous growth in Level 1 and Level 2 autonomy in recent years, but this gives drivers at best the kind of “autonomy” they currently have in the FSDequipped with Tesla.