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DanCar

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New S Class stirs pot on self-driving regulations

Mercedes-Benz's newly redesigned S-Class luxury sedan, revealed last week, represents a big step forward in the automaker's eyes-off autonomous driving technology.

Three years ago, government leaders enacted landmark legislation permitting motorists to hand over full driving control of their vehicle to its on-board autonomous systems if specific conditions are met.

Markus Schäfer, head of technical development at Mercedes-Benz Cars, said the carmaker has a lot of persuading to do, given the patchwork of legal jurisdictions both in Europe and abroad that are still evolving. "It's possible that legislators come up with fresh hurdles that in the end require further sensors," Schäfer said.

The new S-Class could become the first car to offer motorists Level 3 autonomy, which means the car can drive itself under specific conditions, when Mercedes launches its Drive Pilot feature in Germany later this year.

The feature is currently restricted to highway traffic jams, but it will allow drivers to legally divert their attention from monitoring the road — an aspect not allowed under Level 2 systems such as Tesla's Autopilot.

Should conditions depart from that narrow operating envelope, the car will indicate that drivers have 10 seconds to assume control before the vehicle turns on its emergency lights, gradually decelerates and comes to a controlled stop.

Mercedes is still finalizing series development of the feature, which as things stand, cannot be guaranteed to operate under all weather conditions.

The carmaker is in a tight race with its archrival BMW, whose stated goal is to premier eyes-off driving in its new technological flagship, the iNEXT electric SUV, due to launch next year.

Volkswagen Group's premium brand Audi had hoped to beat both luxury competitors to market three years ago when it launched its flagship luxury rival, the A8 sedan. But regulators were in no rush to approve the technology until they were convinced it did not pose a safety risk.

Audi's setback serves the industry as a cautionary tale. By the time that a homologation rules-setting body finalized a process to approve Audi's system, Audi said it was too late to make the necessary changes in the A8.

"The question is how do regulations develop?" said Schäfer. Questions of liability are central to the issue, since manufacturers, rather than drivers, are expected to be held responsible in collisions.

Schäfer noted that safety laws in some parts of the United States require that, when a law enforcement vehicle is parked on the right shoulder, drivers in the slow lane must change lanes to prevent any risk of harm to a police officer. As the Mercedes Drive Pilot is not capable of performing such a maneuver on its own, this presents an additional problem. Schäfer confirmed the company is in discussions with U.S. authorities over a more airtight regulatory framework.

Schäfer declined to estimate a time frame for bringing conditional autonomy to the United States. The benefits need to be weighed against the legal risks, he said. Sources at other German carmakers agreed that the litigation-friendly American legal system is a core concern, along with the U.S. system of self-certification. By comparison, Europe's decision to homologate a vehicle's various systems provides greater protection from damage claims, they said.

New S-Class stirs pot on self-driving regulations
 

diplomat33

Average guy who loves autonomous vehicles
Aug 3, 2017
10,754
15,332
Terre Haute, IN USA
New S Class stirs pot on self-driving regulations

Mercedes-Benz's newly redesigned S-Class luxury sedan, revealed last week, represents a big step forward in the automaker's eyes-off autonomous driving technology.

Three years ago, government leaders enacted landmark legislation permitting motorists to hand over full driving control of their vehicle to its on-board autonomous systems if specific conditions are met.

Markus Schäfer, head of technical development at Mercedes-Benz Cars, said the carmaker has a lot of persuading to do, given the patchwork of legal jurisdictions both in Europe and abroad that are still evolving. "It's possible that legislators come up with fresh hurdles that in the end require further sensors," Schäfer said.

The new S-Class could become the first car to offer motorists Level 3 autonomy, which means the car can drive itself under specific conditions, when Mercedes launches its Drive Pilot feature in Germany later this year.

The feature is currently restricted to highway traffic jams, but it will allow drivers to legally divert their attention from monitoring the road — an aspect not allowed under Level 2 systems such as Tesla's Autopilot.

Should conditions depart from that narrow operating envelope, the car will indicate that drivers have 10 seconds to assume control before the vehicle turns on its emergency lights, gradually decelerates and comes to a controlled stop.

Mercedes is still finalizing series development of the feature, which as things stand, cannot be guaranteed to operate under all weather conditions.

The carmaker is in a tight race with its archrival BMW, whose stated goal is to premier eyes-off driving in its new technological flagship, the iNEXT electric SUV, due to launch next year.

Volkswagen Group's premium brand Audi had hoped to beat both luxury competitors to market three years ago when it launched its flagship luxury rival, the A8 sedan. But regulators were in no rush to approve the technology until they were convinced it did not pose a safety risk.

Audi's setback serves the industry as a cautionary tale. By the time that a homologation rules-setting body finalized a process to approve Audi's system, Audi said it was too late to make the necessary changes in the A8.

"The question is how do regulations develop?" said Schäfer. Questions of liability are central to the issue, since manufacturers, rather than drivers, are expected to be held responsible in collisions.

Schäfer noted that safety laws in some parts of the United States require that, when a law enforcement vehicle is parked on the right shoulder, drivers in the slow lane must change lanes to prevent any risk of harm to a police officer. As the Mercedes Drive Pilot is not capable of performing such a maneuver on its own, this presents an additional problem. Schäfer confirmed the company is in discussions with U.S. authorities over a more airtight regulatory framework.

Schäfer declined to estimate a time frame for bringing conditional autonomy to the United States. The benefits need to be weighed against the legal risks, he said. Sources at other German carmakers agreed that the litigation-friendly American legal system is a core concern, along with the U.S. system of self-certification. By comparison, Europe's decision to homologate a vehicle's various systems provides greater protection from damage claims, they said.

New S-Class stirs pot on self-driving regulations

I think the clock is ticking for Tesla to deliver L3+ because other car companies are not sitting on their laurels. As we see with Mercedes and others, it is only a matter of time before other car companies deliver L3 on consumer cars.
 

Buckminster

Well-Known Member
Aug 29, 2018
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UK
I think the clock is ticking for Tesla to deliver L3+ because other car companies are not sitting on their laurels. As we see with Mercedes and others, it is only a matter of time before other car companies deliver L3 on consumer cars.
  1. Tesla are not focussed on L3 - only L5
  2. All are sitting on their laurels compared to Tesla - Mercedes more than most
 

Eno Deb

Active Member
Aug 17, 2018
2,648
3,418
SF Bay Area
Tesla are not focussed on L3 - only L5
I suspect that will change immediately once competitors release L3 systems and Tesla is still far away from achieving L5. :p

Seriously, L3 on the highway would be a great achievement and far more useful than the parlor tricks they have added recently, and if Tesla were capable of implementing it, they would.
 

powertoold

Active Member
Oct 10, 2014
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What is your definition of true level 3 system? What is your definition of robotaxi level FSD? Tesla is many years away from level 4. If we are to trust Merc, they are coming out with level 3 end of this year so that is why your prediction doesn't make sense.

I am reading articles relating to the Mercedes Drive pilot, and I am not convinced it’s level III based on the descriptions. Where are you finding a good explanation of the S class drive pilot?

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Comes With Built-In Level 3 Autonomy - FutureCar.com - via @FutureCar_Media

Drive Pilot will be usable "in situations where traffic density is high or in tailbacks, on suitable motorway sections in Germany." Level 3 autonomy means the car will be able to drive all on its own, but a driver is required to be prepared to take over at all times. Mercedes believes the system will allow drivers to send a text or browse the Internet without worrying about getting into an accident. Drivers, though, will have to be able to take control of the vehicle and drive manually within 10 seconds if needed. So, you can forget about writing your autobiography.

In order to keep an eye on the driver, the S-Class comes with a driver monitoring system that's similar to the one found on vehicles with Cadillac's Super Cruise system. Mercedes' luxury car tracks the driver's eye and head movements. Look away for too long, and the system will request that you take control of the car. Fail to do so in a timely manner, and the vehicle will eventually come to a stop in its lane.
 
Tesla pretty much already does what was stated in This article.

Being able to sit in a traffic jam hands free is not at big of deal especially on the interstate.

Lots of idiots just buy Mercedes based on a name and some people think there years ahead of everyone.

well while they think that my Tesla already can summon to me in the rain and stops at traffic lights.

Then every month the FSD gets better and better. Meanwhile Mercedes will most likely never get better and fail to live up to it’s own hype.

Everyone knows Tesla is the leader in self driving and everyone one else is way behind. GM is the closest competitor and really the only one that making any attempt.
 

Eno Deb

Active Member
Aug 17, 2018
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SF Bay Area
Tesla pretty much already does what was stated in This article.
They don't. The critical difference is that you are required to supervise the system at all times. With an L3 system, you don't have to pay attention in situations covered by the system, and have reasonable time to take over once the car requests it. It means you could safely use your phone or watch Netflix until the car requests your attention.
 

powertoold

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Oct 10, 2014
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diplomat33

Average guy who loves autonomous vehicles
Aug 3, 2017
10,754
15,332
Terre Haute, IN USA
I am reading articles relating to the Mercedes Drive pilot, and I am not convinced it’s level III based on the descriptions. Where are you finding a good explanation of the S class drive pilot?

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Comes With Built-In Level 3 Autonomy - FutureCar.com - via @FutureCar_Media

Drive Pilot will be usable "in situations where traffic density is high or in tailbacks, on suitable motorway sections in Germany." Level 3 autonomy means the car will be able to drive all on its own, but a driver is required to be prepared to take over at all times. Mercedes believes the system will allow drivers to send a text or browse the Internet without worrying about getting into an accident. Drivers, though, will have to be able to take control of the vehicle and drive manually within 10 seconds if needed. So, you can forget about writing your autobiography.

In order to keep an eye on the driver, the S-Class comes with a driver monitoring system that's similar to the one found on vehicles with Cadillac's Super Cruise system. Mercedes' luxury car tracks the driver's eye and head movements. Look away for too long, and the system will request that you take control of the car. Fail to do so in a timely manner, and the vehicle will eventually come to a stop in its lane.

That sounds like L3 to me. It is self-driving where the driver can do other stuff but might be asked to take over in 10 seconds when prompted to. That is textbook definition of L3.

Also note in your article that the Mercedes S-class will also offer L4 auto park which will basically work like reverse summon and smart summon but L4 which Tesla does not offer. Tesla's auto park and smart summon are not L4.
 

powertoold

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Oct 10, 2014
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That sounds like L3 to me. It is self-driving where the driver can do other stuff but might be asked to take over in 10 seconds when prompted to. That is textbook definition of L3.

I stand corrected then. If auto makers are allowed to define any operation design domain, then I guess they can release level 3.

As for your claim that the driver can do other stuff, that’s not actually correct. The document defines what the driver can do while the system is this level III. They state that the driver can make adjustments to the car infotainment system or press buttons on the dash essentially.

Here's the text for reference:

It thus frees the “driver” (who becomes a “fallback-ready user” while DRIVE PILOT is engaged) to do other things besides driving or supervising the driving automation feature. For example, subject to applicable laws, the fallback-ready user may use the in-vehicle multimedia system for commu- nications, productivity and/or entertainment purposes
 
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Eno Deb

Active Member
Aug 17, 2018
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SF Bay Area
I stand corrected then. If auto makers are allowed to define any operation design domain, then I guess they can release level 3.

As for your claim that the driver can do other stuff, that’s not actually correct. The document defines what the driver can do while the system is this level III. They state that the driver can make adjustments to the car infotainment system or press buttons on the dash essentially.
This is what the document you linked above says (page 16):

"Level 3 Conditional Automated Driving

Once in conditional automated driving mode, the person formerly driving the vehicle now has the role of fallback-ready user and may be permitted to engage in tasks, such as using the in-vehicle multimedia system for communications, productivity and/or entertainment purposes."
 
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powertoold

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This is what the document you linked above says (page 16):

"Level 3 Conditional Automated Driving

Once in conditional automated driving mode, the person formerly driving the vehicle now has the role of fallback-ready user and may be permitted to engage in tasks, such as using the in-vehicle multimedia system for communications, productivity and/or entertainment purposes."

Yup, it says you can use the infotainment system and/or press buttons on the dash.

You say:

"you could safely use your phone or watch Netflix until the car requests your attention"

Not sure where you get that from?

Again from the document:

  • While the DRIVE PILOT feature is engaged, it con- tinuously monitors the fallback-ready user’s ability to resume driving when requested (e.g., s/he is not permitted to sleep, leave the driver’s seat, etc.).
 

diplomat33

Average guy who loves autonomous vehicles
Aug 3, 2017
10,754
15,332
Terre Haute, IN USA
I stand corrected then. If auto makers are allowed to define any operation design domain, then I guess they can release level 3.

Yes. By definition, L1-L4 have limited ODD. So the ODD can be big or small, whatever the auto maker decides. The only level of autonomy where the auto maker cannot define any ODD they want is L5 since L5 has to be "everything".

As for your claim that the driver can do other stuff, that’s not actually correct. The document defines what the driver can do while the system is this level III. They state that the driver can make adjustments to the car infotainment system or press buttons on the dash essentially.

I was basing it on this sentence in your article:

"Mercedes believes the system will allow drivers to send a text or browse the Internet without worrying about getting into an accident."

So the driver can text or browse the internet while L3 is on.
 

powertoold

Active Member
Oct 10, 2014
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USA
So to summarize this Mercedes level 3 system, not released yet, in development:
  • Only works in Germany
  • Needs to be in an HD mapped highway
  • In moderate to high traffic situations
  • Needs to be following a car
  • Stays in one lane, no lane changes
  • Have to always be ready to take over in 10 seconds
  • Well-marked lane lines only
  • Good weather only
 
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powertoold

Active Member
Oct 10, 2014
3,681
8,056
USA
"Mercedes believes the system will allow drivers to send a text or browse the Internet without worrying about getting into an accident."

So the driver can text or browse the internet while L3 is on.

That's true, but like I posted above, the document says you can do productivity tasks on the infotainment system. It is likely the infotainment system allows you to text and "browse" the internet.
 
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That sounds like L3 to me. It is self-driving where the driver can do other stuff but might be asked to take over in 10 seconds when prompted to. That is textbook definition of L3.

Also note in your article that the Mercedes S-class will also offer L4 auto park which will basically work like reverse summon and smart summon but L4 which Tesla does not offer. Tesla's auto park and smart summon are not L4.

So here is why I think no one is actually ahead of Tesla right now.

This level 3 system that Mercedes is advertising is nice but it's only L3 in basically a traffic jam, other than that is is L2 on highways. This is where a lot of manufacturers fall behind Tesla in my opininon and that is because almost all of their autopilot systems is based on highway driving. Take your car off of the highway most of these cars will require you to take over. Tesla has been able to drive itself where there are lines for a long time, they have now released a beta for stop signs and traffic lights. Soon they will release their entire rework of the their system which is supposed to be leaps and bounds ahead of the current system which I already don't see any other manufacturer with a system that touches the current.

As for the auto park feature; Tesla has auto park and is working on improving it. There is no evidence that Mercedes will be able to park without ever once hitting another vehicle, but Tesla has at least proved that it is capable of doing so almost every single time it's ever asked to by countless youtubers.

The biggest restriction that Tesla has for L3 and L4 parking is regulations and perfecting the minor details.

If it becomes legal for Mercedes to do L3 in traffic jams and L4 parking, I'd bet that Tesla will be like "we can already do that, just give us the same test"

The biggest difference if that happens is that Mercedes and other makes will still be limited to highways and parking lots, where Elon has stated that their next big update for the FSD system will be turns at intersections. I wouldn't be surprised if by the time Mercedes is ready for L3 in traffic jams, Tesla is ready for L3 for all highway driving.
 

Eno Deb

Active Member
Aug 17, 2018
2,648
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SF Bay Area
Yup, it says you can use the infotainment system and/or press buttons on the dash.

You say:

"you could safely use your phone or watch Netflix until the car requests your attention"

Not sure where you get that from?
Uhm, watching Netflix is literally "using the infotainment system for entertainment purposes". Where do you get the "press buttons on the dash"? That's obviously silly, since you can press buttons on the dash in any car.

Again from the document:

  • While the DRIVE PILOT feature is engaged, it con- tinuously monitors the fallback-ready user’s ability to resume driving when requested (e.g., s/he is not permitted to sleep, leave the driver’s seat, etc.).
Yes. And? That's pretty much the textbook definition of L3. It doesn't mean that the driver has to constantly supervise what the car is doing like with Tesla's autopilot.
 

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