Mercedes-Benz Breaks Ground with Level 3 Automated Driving System Approval in Beijing


Mercedes-Benz has marked a significant milestone by becoming one of the initial automakers to secure approval for a Level 3 automated driving road test license in Beijing. Since 2021, the company has been actively conducting proving ground tests for its conditionally automated driving systems in China.

The global automotive giant seamlessly integrates its extensive international research and development experience with a dedicated local team in China. Through collaboration with local partners and a meticulous adaptation to regional regulations, Mercedes-Benz tailors its products to meet the specific needs of the Chinese market.

In December 2021, Mercedes-Benz achieved a groundbreaking feat by receiving the world’s first internationally valid system approval for conditionally automated driving. The DRIVE PILOT, part of the Level 3 system, has been available in Germany since May 2022, featured in the S-Class and EQS sedan.

On December 16, the company solidified its commitment to innovation by obtaining approval for the Level 3 automated driving highway road test license in Beijing. Mercedes-Benz is set to initiate testing on designated highways, ensuring adherence to its ‘safety first’ principle. The collaboration with relevant authorities underscores the company’s dedication to developing Level 3 systems for China and delivering a secure and reliable automated driving experience for Chinese customers.

Mercedes-Benz has a longstanding history as a pioneer in automated driving, dating back to 1986 with adaptive cruise control testing. Today, it stands as the only car manufacturer globally with both the first internationally valid system approval for conditionally automated driving and a SAE Level 4 driverless parking system in operation. In China, the company has been conducting Level 3 system tests for years.

Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG and Chief Technology Officer, expressed the company’s commitment to providing a superior customer experience worldwide. He emphasized the importance of the testing license in Beijing as a crucial step in preparing conditionally automated driving for Chinese roads.

The Level 3 system, DRIVE PILOT, incorporates redundant safety measures for reliability. It utilizes sensor technology from the Driving Assistance Package, augmented with additional sensors such as LiDAR, advanced stereo cameras, microphones for emergency vehicle signals, and a moisture sensor. Redundant steering and braking systems, along with an onboard electrical system, ensure maneuverability and a safe handover to the driver in case of system failure.

The activated DRIVE PILOT allows drivers to engage in secondary activities, such as communication via In-Car Office, web browsing, or leisure activities like watching a movie. Mercedes-Benz introduced DRIVE PILOT as an optional conditionally automated driving system in Germany in 2022, with plans for customer deliveries in California and Nevada in early 2024.

Mercedes-Benz takes a step-by-step approach to system design, prioritizing safety. The company aims to expand the availability of conditionally automated driving on freeways to up to 130 km/h by the end of the decade. In the interim, Mercedes-Benz plans to introduce intermediate steps, including a system capable of 90 km/h when following a vehicle on the German highway.

The localization of Mercedes-Benz vehicles for the Chinese market involves close collaboration with the local R&D team. This interdisciplinary team of engineers, lawyers, compliance managers, data protection experts, and ethics experts works together for the development and approval of the conditionally automated driving system. Proving ground testing and validation in China have been ongoing since 2021 to optimize system performance for China’s unique road infrastructure, traffic conditions, and regulatory environment.

Since 2005, Mercedes-Benz has expanded its R&D capabilities in China, establishing a comprehensive network outside of Germany. The China R&D team is expected to grow to 2,000 people by the end of 2023, reflecting the company’s commitment to local talent and collaborative innovation.

In the realm of automated driving, Mercedes-Benz continues its collaboration with local authorities to bring innovative technologies to Chinese customers, contributing to the development of intelligent connected vehicles in China. The company’s forward-looking approach positions it as a leader in the automated driving technology landscape, dedicated to providing a safe and reliable driving experience for customers worldwide.

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