Mercedes' new Level 3 autonomous driving program Drive Pilot is available now in California and Nevada. The system works in stop-and-go traffic up to 40 mph, taking full control of the car. You can take your hands off the wheel and your eyes off the road. You can watch TV or play video games on the central infotainment screen. But you can't go to sleep. It monitors your eyes and they have to be open. We tried it. It makes you forget immediately that you're sitting in soul-sucking traffic. It works!
From the outside it's hard to tell a Drive Pilot car from any other Mercedes.
The big graphics on the side were only for the demo cars.
Mercedes Drive Pilot car.
Drive Pilot wouldn't work here. It needs to be following another vehicle going 40 mph or slower.
It uses numerous sensors to determine its position in traffic.
There are two buttons on the steering wheel you can use to engage Drive Pilot.
Once it's engaged, an upper light illuminates.
Then you can take your hands off the wheel and your eyes can wander.
You can watch YouTube, for instance.
Or play a game—this one is called Shuffle Puck.
You can also stare vapidly into space.
This screen shows you what all the sensors see.
The turquoise exterior lights come on when Drive Pilot is engaged.
The lights let police and other drivers know your vehicle is being driven autonomously.
This houses the antenna array for highly accurate positioning.
It sits on the aft end of the roof.
Without the turquoise exterior lights you could get pulled over for texting while driving.
Mercedes has informed police agancies in California and Nevada about Drive Pilot and the turquoise lights.
Only one of these is a real LIDAR sensor. The other one is just there to balance out the symmetry of the design.
This is the fake one.
There's even some on the outside rearview mirrors.