Mercedes-Benz has revealed the first U.S. availability and pricing details of Drive Pilot, its proprietary ADAS system that allows for conditionally-automated SAE Level 3 driving.
The system is set to launch in late 2023 on a limited fleet of EQS sedan models in California and Nevada – where it has been formally approved for use. In early 2024, the OEM then plans to launch model year 2024 EQS Sedan and S-Class models equipped with the system to authorized dealers in California and Nevada. Following its initial launch in these two states, Mercedes-Benz will then look to launch the ADAS in additional U.S. markets.
Drive Pilot itself enables the vehicle to take over control of the dynamic driving task at speeds of up to 40 mph (64 km/h) on suitable freeway sections and in high-density traffic. Upon activation, it independently controls both the vehicle’s speed and distance while maintaining its lane position. During these operations, the driver can access certain infotainment apps from the center display that are otherwise blocked when the vehicle is driving.
While building on the OEM’s existing Driver Assistance Package, Drive Pilot also utilizes a suite of safety sensors – including a LiDAR sensor, rear window camera, microphones that detect emergency vehicles, and a road wetness sensor in the wheel. Supporting this hardware is a set of redundancies that work together to ensure the driving task is safely handed back to the user, including redundant steering and braking actuators as well as a redundant on-board electric system to ensure maneuverability if one of these systems fails.
As it rolls out, Drive Pilot will be installed on select EQS and S-Class models at the factory, with the driver then unlocking and activating it through the Mercedes me connect store. Here, the system will be offered through a subscription model that will start at $2,500 (£2,407 / €2,371). While Mercedes-Benz confirmed that it will offer additional pricing plans for the system at a later date, details on these have not yet been provided. In opting for a subscription model over a one-time purchase, Mercedes-Benz said that it will provide flexibility for users who may activate Drive Pilot in California or Nevada, use it, and then move to a state where it has not yet been approved – at which point they can cancel their subscription accordingly.
While sharing details on its planned rollout for Drive Pilot in the U.S., Mercedes-Benz also provided new insights into the system’s key safety features – including a high-precision positioning system that determines the precise location of the vehicle within a range of inches. A digital HD map provides further safety support, working alongside the data collected by its sensor suite to develop a three-dimensional image of the road ahead and its surroundings.
This map additionally provides information on the road’s geometry, route characteristics, traffic signs, and details on special traffic events (such as road accidents and construction zones). This information is stored in backend data centers, and consistently updated to ensure Drive Pilot remains accurate while the vehicle stores a copy of this information on-board, comparing it with the backend data and updating the local dataset as necessary.