for once, the law is ahead of technology

It is now possible to drive a level 3 autonomous car at up to 130 km/h without holding the steering wheel or looking at the road. The problem is that no manufacturer currently offers this technology. Only the Mercedes EQS and the S-Class are compatible, but currently only up to 60 km/h.

Mercedes Drive Pilot

We’ve been hearing about autonomous driving for a long time, although almost all manufacturers are working on it. We think, of course, of Tesla with its Autopilot and its FSD (Full Self-Driving) in the US, or of Volvo equipping its new EX90 with a LiDAR sensor. Many device manufacturers are also interested, including Plastic Omninum, which presented an innovative radar technology integrated into the bumper. If things are going in the right direction, everything is not finished yet.

Change of regulations…

Until then, In Europe, only level 2 autonomous driving was allowed. In concrete terms, this means that it is possible to leave the car alone as long as you keep your hands on the wheel, or more precisely, to pay close attention to what is happening on the road. In other words, it is always the driver who is responsible for driving.

But since July 14, 2022, Level 3 has now been approved in Europe: it is the car that is responsible for driving. However, this technology was only approved in France on September 1st, but only under certain conditions. While the street must be off-limits to pedestrians and cyclists, it must also have a central dividing line.

The driver must also always be able to take control when the car prompts him to do so, which means sleeping or watching a movie is out of the question. Last but not least, the speed was limited to 60 km/h, thereby avoiding traffic jams on motorways.

But now some changes have been made while regulations have been eased slightly. We remember that last July the United Nations Economic and Social Council announced that it approved autonomous driving up to 130 km/h. On January 1, 2023, a measure finally came into force in Germany, as the site announced Heise.de. For now, nothing is concrete in France, but we should know a little more quickly.

… but the brands do not follow

So on paper, this is excellent news for motorists, who will be able to use it to cover long distances without having to touch the steering wheel. Additionally, this new regulation aims to help improve road traffic, while a recent study proved that self-driving cars help reduce phantom congestion on highways. But there is still a small catch.

In fact, only Mercedes currently offers Level 3 for its cars in Europe, for its EQS and its S-Class, via the Drive Pilot system. However, according to the previous regulations, it was only approved for a top speed of 60 km/h. On the other hand, if the German company is ahead of Tesla, it is behind in terms of legislation.

Mercedes Drive Pilot
Mercedes Drive Pilot: Level 3 autonomous driving

A situation that may seem strange but is quite embarrassing for the German brand, which then risks being left behind by its competitors, including BMW. The manufacturer is also working to launch models equipped with autonomous driving technology, as are many Chinese firms such as Nio or Zeekr.

This is all the more worrying given that Mercedes could not announce a timeline for the update for the time being, as explained by Automobile Magazine. Can this be done remotely, as is the case with Tesla, for example, which offers the transition from classic autopilot to fully autonomous driving after purchase via OTA update (over-the-air)? We still have to wait for the answer to this question.

In any case, at the moment Mercedes remains the only manufacturer to drive cars with level 3 autonomous driving in Europe. More precisely in Germany.

Autonomous cars: what are the differences between the autonomy levels?

We explain to you what the different levels of autonomous driving mean. Between fully autonomous driving, semi-autonomous driving and driving aids, we help you see things more clearly.
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