Autonomous driving technology is becoming a key differentiator in the premium luxury market and Audi took an early lead when it introduced the all-new A8 with a Level 3 semi-autonomous driving system.
Mercedes was one of the first automakers to introduce semi-autonomous driving technology as the company’s adaptive cruise control system has been around for over a decade. As a result, the company isn’t going to sit idly by while Audi enjoys the spotlight.
As Mercedes research and development boss, Ola Källenius, told Autoguide “It is our goal in the next three years or so, to have the first application in the market for that Level 4 / Level 5 technology. Prior to that, in 2020, we’re pursuing our first Level 3 car where you can obviously have some parts of the driving experience autonomous.”
The Level 3 system will debut on the S-Class and Källenius noted it will be a “sensible option” for buyers of the flagship sedan. There’s no word on how much the system will cost but Källenius hinted the technology will be priced similarly to other options on the S-Class. That’s a little vague but the Driver Assistance Package on the S560 sedan costs $2,250 and includes features such as Active Steering Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, and Active Brake Assist with a cross-traffic function.
SAE International defines a Level 3 system as conditional automation and says the vehicle should be able to handle “all aspects of the dynamic driving task with the expectation that the human driver will respond appropriately to a request to intervene.”
Mercedes is also working on Level 4 and Level 5 systems but Källenius has previously said they are primarily being developed for the taxi market as they are “phenomenally expensive” and will likely cost “tens of thousands of dollars once you get it into production.”