2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Comes With Built-In Level 3 Autonomy
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has always been the automaker's most high-tech vehicle, consistently ushering in cutting-edge technology when new models are introduced. Just like its predecessors, the 2021 S-Class is a technological marvel with features that include an active suspension system that can prepare the vehicle for a side impact, driver biometrics, active ambient lighting, and so much more. One of the extra goodies found on the S-Class is a Level 3-ready autonomous system called Drive Pilot.
Will Level 3 Be Available In The U.S.?
Level 3 autonomy has been closely associated with the new S-Class for some time when prototypes of the sedan started to test publicly. While the U.S. press release for the new S-Class doesn't mention anything about Level 3 autonomy, the European version does. Before we dive deep into the details, the Level 3 autonomous system won't go live in Germany until the second half of 2021 with no mention of it being offered in the U.S. So, while it's certainly a cool system, there's a slim chance that it will come to America.
Drive Pilot will be usable "in situations where traffic density is high or in tailbacks, on suitable motorway sections in Germany." Level 3 autonomy means the car will be able to drive all on its own, but a driver is required to be prepared to take over at all times. Mercedes believes the system will allow drivers to send a text or browse the Internet without worrying about getting into an accident. Drivers, though, will have to be able to take control of the vehicle and drive manually within 10 seconds if needed. So, you can forget about writing your autobiography.
In order to keep an eye on the driver, the S-Class comes with a driver monitoring system that's similar to the one found on vehicles with Cadillac's Super Cruise system. Mercedes' luxury car tracks the driver's eye and head movements. Look away for too long, and the system will request that you take control of the car. Fail to do so in a timely manner, and the vehicle will eventually come to a stop in its lane.
To give the S-Class the ability to drive itself, at least for most of the time, the sedan comes with a few extras over the standard suite of sensors. There's LiDAR, a few external microphones, and an extra rear camera in the rear window. The external microphones are used to identify emergency vehicles.
Level 4 Parking Also Included
There's a separate autonomous system that's equipped on the 2021 S-Class and it's a Level 4 system, but only when it comes to parking. The system is called Automatic Valet Parking and it's only one step below from having a car without a steering wheel. When the vehicle is within a properly equipped parking structure, the S-Class can be dropped off at a designated location and then told to go park itself via a smartphone app. The car will go find a spot and can return to the drop-off point when you're ready to head home.
Lastly, an available parking package allows owners to remotely control the S-Class. This system sounds similar to Hyundai's Smart Park feature. The fully autonomous parking system sounds nearly identical to what Ford and Bosch showcased recently.
All of this autonomous technology sounds cutting edge and would certainly put the new S-Class on par with Tesla. Unfortunately, because of laws in the U.S., it's unclear if America will ever get the systems. Either way, Mercedes set certainly set the record straight with its flagship sedan as being a futuristic model.
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