Mercedes-Benz is the first automaker to accept liability when its autonomous driving systems are active
Drive Pilot is the brand’s level 3 autonomous driving system
Mercedes intends to introduce this system in the US by the end of the year
Indeed, the automaker is so confident in its Drive Pilot level3 autonomous system that it will accept full liability in any accident that could be caused by the vehicle when the system is active.
This is important because level 3 systems don’t require the driver to be attentive to the road at all times, which means that they can’t be expected to avoid a collision if the vehicle is unable to do so on its own.
It is important to note that the technology in question, the Drive Pilot system, only works in limited conditions. Indeed, it is intended to be used when stuck in traffic on the highway at speeds less than 40 mph (64 km/h)
This allows the person sitting in the driver’s seat to do anything they want, such as reading or using their phone while the car is going down the road.
Mercedes’ Drive Pilot system is expected to be made available to buyers in California and Nevada later this year, at which point it will become the first level 3 autonomous driving system to be sold to the public in the United States.
Indeed, all of the current systems like GM’s SuperCruise or Tesla’s Full Self-Driving are labeled as level 2 technologies, since they require constant supervision by the driver in order to avoid accidents in an emergency.
The way Mercedes-Benz put together its statement leaves place to some questions however, since the automaker said that the driver would not be held responsible for an accident «until the system disengages».
This statement could mean that the driver would be responsible if the system disengages directly before a collision occurs. In addition, would drivers that have spent a while browsing their phones be ready to suddenly take back control if the system requires it?
Since there is currently no federal laws concerning autonomous vehicles in the United States, the determination of liability in an accident involving one sits in a grey area that will need to be cleared up before other automakers begin to release their own level 3 systems.