Mercedes take the wheel: Testing Drive Pilot L3 autonomy in traffic

Yes, you can finally let the car do the driving, but don't tune out too much.


The day is finally here: There's a self-driving car available for purchase in the US. Or, at least, there will be within the next few months. Mercedes-Benz is bringing its Drive Pilot-equipped cars to California and Nevada, and, when they're deployed, you'll not only be able to take your hands off the wheel but also take your eyes off the road.

Drive Pilot is the first proper SAE Level 3 autonomy system on the road, meaning when the car is driving itself you, the driver, aren't even liable for the car's behavior. That's an impressive feat, but it's one that comes with a lot of caveats. The biggest is that it only works at up to 40 mph, and even then only in clear weather conditions. You have to be on a highway that has been mapped by Here's HD maps, and you must have a car ahead of you.

There are restrictions within the car, too. You can't take a nap, can't turn around and look at the people in the back seat (at least not for long), and, perhaps most frustrating, you still can't use your phone. That's a lot of can't, sadly, but Mercedes-Benz promises this is just the beginning, with higher speeds and more flexible use-cases to come with time. What's it like today? Check out our test drive to see.