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Mercedes-Benz May Have Beaten BMW to the Level 3 Punch

BMW made a big deal about the new Level 3 autonomous driving aids in the newly revealed 7 Series and i7 and for good reason. BMW was, at the time, the first automaker to truly offer a Level 3 system that was ready for public use. However, Mercedes-Benz just sort of pissed in BMW’s cornflakes by not only announcing its own Level 3 system but actually putting it on sale first.

The BMW 7 Series and i7 will go on sale this fall and will offer its Level 3 system as an option in some European markets, including Germany. However, Mercedes-Benz’s own level 3 system, Drive Pilot, is now officially available for sale on the S-Class and EQS luxury sedans, essentially mimicking BMW’s offerings.

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Mercedes-Benz’s Drive Pilot works almost the same way as BMW’s own system. It also uses a long-range Lidar system, combined with radar sensors and cameras, to create a 3D digital image of the car’s surroundings. Just like BMW’s system, Mercedes’ Drive Pilot only works on highways, under 37 mph, with clearly marked lines, and under 40 degrees Fahrenheit (the latter of which is to ensure it’s not in use on icy roads). However, when it’s engaged, the driver is allowed true hands-off driving, without ever having to manually interact with the system, so long as the car remains in those aforementioned parameters. Mercedes-Benz even offers some games to be played with the main infotainment system, such as a pong-like game.

This Drive Pilot system isn’t entirely new, Mercedes-Benz first announced it late last year, but it officially going on sale is a new development and one that’s sure to annoy the Bavarians, who said their system would be first. It’s still impressive that BMW is going to offer a Level 3 system of its own but it’s no longer going to be the first one on sale and the fact that its main rival, Mercedes-Benz, is beating it to the punch is a bit of a low-blow.

[Source: Motor Trend]

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