First commercial L3 system approved for use on Nevada public roads

On January 26, 2023, the DRIVE PILOT system from Mercedes-Benz was the first and only one so far to be approved for use on public roads in the state of Nevada (United States). Level 3 SAE system has been implemented in a serial vehicle manufactured German brand [1].

The state has certified the DRIVE PILOT system to comply with the Nevada Automated Vehicle Regulations (Nevada Chapter 482A for Autonomous vehicles). It is worth noting that in Europe, the system was offered on the German market from May 2022. At that time, two Mercedes-Benz models equipped with this system went on sale [2].

When activated, DRIVE PILOT controls the speed, distance from the vehicle in front, keeps the vehicle in the designated lane, takes into account road profile and signs, as well as some unexpected traffic situations (performs evasive and braking manoeuvres). Thus, the conditional automated driving mode allows the driver to be temporarily distracted and focus on non-driving related tasks without having to keep their hands on the steering wheeli. When DRIVE PILOT is active, apps that would otherwise be blocked while driving can be activated in the vehicle’s central display. However, driver presence inside the vehicle is still required and he must remain ready to take over control whenever the vehicle displays a message about the need for intervention and in situations where the system does not correctly identify the limitation exceedance. If the driver does not take control in time, the system will bring the vehicle to a controlled stop while activating the hazard warning lights. After that the emergency call system is activated and the doors are unlocked to allow first aiders access to the interior.

Despite the high level of system advancement, a vehicle with activated DRIVE PILOT has a relatively low (as for motorway) speed limit – up to 40 miles per hour (approx. 64 km/h). Once approved, vehicles with Drive Pilot activated can now drive in areas of Nevada where it is legal, i.e. on appropriate sections of highways and where there is heavy traffic.

It is worth noting that international technical and safety standards for automated driving systems were approved by the UN UNECE in 2020. UN R157ii entered into force on January 22, 2021. Despite the fact that DRIVE PILOT was the first system at the L3 level approved in accordance with UN R157 (09.12.2021), it has not yet been approved for use throughout the European Union [3]. It is necessary for Member States to make the necessary changes to road traffic rules that will allow driving without having to keep your hands on the steering wheel. German road regulations allowing the use of such systems under certain conditions have been adopted already in 2017 (Road Traffic Act, German: Straßenverkehrsgesetz).

i Which additional driver activities are legally allowed depends on the respective national road traffic regulations.
ii ECG (57) concerns e.g. EU, UK, Japan, Korea, Australia.

[1] Mercedes-Benz world’s first automotive company to certify SAE Level 3 system for U.S. market | Mercedes-Benz Group > Innovation > Product innovation > Autonomous driving [access: 08/02/2023]
[2] Mercedes opens sales of Level 3 self-driving system on S-Class, EQS | Automotive News Europe ( [access: 08/02/2023]
[3] First internationally valid system approval: Conditionally automated driving | Mercedes-Benz Group > Innovation > Product innovation > Autonomous driving [access: 08/02/2023] 

Images source: Mercedes-Benz