At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Mercedes Benz revealed the state of Nevada approved their SAE level 3 autonomous driving system. The first car maker to receive approval for level 3 driving automation in the country. Many are skeptical about self-driving vehicles, with stories such as a self-driving vehicle causing an eight-car pile-up in San Francisco. Here’s everything you need to know about level 3 self-driving vehicles and what this means for the US.
Mercedes is the first car maker to gain level 3 self-driving approval in the US.
You read that correctly. Though Tesla is more commonly associated with self-driving vehicles, they only provide level 2 automation in the US. SAE International, formally known as the Society of Automotive Engineers, defines the different levels of driving automation in vehicles.
Level 2 automation, which is commonly found in Teslas, provides automated driver support for steering, braking, and acceleration. However, the driver remains in control of the vehicle and must “constantly supervise” the car as it drives. Failure to remain in control of the vehicle can result in tragedies like the San Francisco pile-up mentioned earlier.
Level 3 automation allows the vehicle to operate autonomously. Meaning the driver can enjoy themselves as a passenger. However, they must remain alert if the vehicle requests the driver take over once again.
According to AutoInsurance.Org, “robotaxis,” or fully-autonomous vehicles that operate without a driver present, fall into a legal gray area. These completely driverless vehicles operate in certain areas of Texas and Arizona and are difficult to come across. Footage of a robotaxi operating in a bike lane in Austin, Texas, raised further concerns for fully autonomous vehicles.
What does this mean for autonomous vehicles in the rest of the country?
InsideEVs reports Mercedes Benz is optimistic that California will also approve their level 3 driving automation as well. Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating complaints against General Motors’ robotaxis. So it’s still up in the air when or if fully automated vehicles roll out across the nation.