BERLIN – The German car watchdog has approved the semi-autonomous drive system Drive Pilot from Mercedes-Benz, paving the way for the subsidiary of Daimler AG to offer Drive Pilot internationally.
The highly automated system allows the driver to focus on other activities while a car equipped with the technology is in heavy traffic or on busy highways, Mercedes-Benz said in a statement on Thursday.
The German KBA authority approved the system based on technical requirements laid down in United Nations regulations.
“The CBA sets national, European and international road safety standards on the road to autonomous driving,” said the authority’s president, Richard Damm, in a statement.
In addition to UN regulations on technical requirements, countries must also pass legislation clarifying where and how such systems can be used, as well as liability issues.
“With this milestone, we are once again proving our pioneering work in automated driving and also initiating a radical paradigm shift,” said Markus Schaefer, Chief Technology Officer at Daimler.
Once the legislation is in place in China and the United States, Mercedes-Benz will offer the system in those markets, Schaefer added.
The approval from Germany means that Mercedes-Benz can offer the S-Class with Drive Pilot to customers in Germany in the first half of 2022.
Such level 3 automatic systems have been permitted in Germany since 2017. According to Mercedes-Benz, there are more than 13,100 kilometers (8,140 miles) of highway in Germany suitable for the Drive Pilot system. By comparison, the German government considers Tesla Autopilot to be a Level 2 system.
With Drive Pilot, the driver can engage the system in slow-moving traffic and concentrate on making calls, emailing, surfing the web or watching a movie. The KBA approved the system for driving speeds of up to 60 kilometers per hour (37 miles per hour). It has not decided whether it should be approved for speeds of up to 130 km/h, or a lane change assistant that automates overtaking another car.
Includes reporting from Bloomberg.