In addition to announcing plans to build its own charging network, as well as an odd collaboration with Superplastic, Mercedes-Benz announced today that its Level 3 driver-assistance system has also been approved by the state of Nevada, with California approval expected soon. That means Mercedes will be the first automaker to offer Level 3 driving in the U.S.
The system allows for true hands-free driving under certain conditions, and Mercedes claims the system is advanced enough that drivers can do other tasks while it’s operating. At least until the car decides it needs a human to take over the driving. So even if you can technically get away with zoning out more than you can with a Level 2 system, it’s still far from full automation. It also currently doesn’t work at highway speeds.
As for its current Level 2 driver-assist system, Mercedes also announced that automatic lane changes will also be coming to the North American market. Drivers will soon be able to set the speed with adaptive cruise control, and when the car approaches a slower vehicle, it will initiate a lane change and then return to the lane it was previously in. If you’re using the navigation system, it will also move over to take an exit ramp automatically.
To give owners something to occupy themselves with as its cars get closer to full automation, Mercedes also announced a partnership with Zync to develop an in-car digital entertainment platform to stream media while driving. Currently, only passengers will be able to watch videos on the road, but that changes when the car is parked. So if there isn’t much to do while waiting for your car to charge, Mercedes has got you covered.
The fact that Mercedes was able to get approval for its Level 3 system is pretty cool even if it’s currently just in one state. It’ll also be interesting to see how soon other states follow. Especially if California follows Nevada’s lead.