Believe it or not, the most comprehensive semi-autonomous driver assistance system on our market no longer comes from Tesla. At the end of last year it became known that Mercedes-Benz was the first manufacturer to receive approval from a European country to let its Drive Pilot system take over the steering wheel completely. The fiat came from the government of — how could it be otherwise — car country Germany, and it is there that the S-Class and EQS will cover their first autonomous kilometers.
However, that does not mean that you will now see plenty of Mercedes with drowsy drivers racing over the Autobahn, because there are still more than enough restrictions in the use of the system. For example, the steering wheel may only be released for extended periods “on suitable highway sections” up to a speed of 60 km/h. That makes it more of a kind of traffic jam assistant, although we can just as well appreciate something like this with today’s traffic. Within that margin, this is the only system that officially reaches level 3 of autonomous driving, and therefore does more than the average adaptive cruise control with some lane assistance can achieve. For example, the function is powered by a LiDAR sensor, various cameras, a radar and even ultrasonic sensors, but it also uses data from the navigation system. You operate it via a set of buttons that are mounted in the edge of the steering wheel, and so you immediately recognize a ‘Benz owner who has checked this toy on the option list.
Mercedes is the first to roll out the technology on its top models, the S-Class and the electric EQS. The German buyer will find them in the configurator from May 17, where they will have to pay 5,000 euros for the S-Class. On the EQS, the addition costs a total of 7,430 euros, since the Driver Assistance Package Plus must also be checked there, worth 2,430 euros. When — and even if — the system will ever appear in the Belgian catalog is not yet known, because that depends entirely on the legislation in our country. Those who really want to get rid of their traffic jams can only import one from our neighbors.