Speaking to Auto News Europe, Ola Kaellenius said “We are on the verge of jumping to Level 3, which is our target for the next S-Class.” He went on to say the system will be optional on the company’s flagship sedan and noted the technology will spread “relatively quickly” to other models.
While the Audi A8 became the first German luxury sedan to offer Level 3 semi-autonomous driving technology, Mercedes still expects to beat BMW to the punch. Since the production version of the iNext isn’t due to arrive until 2021, Kaellenius said the “timeframe should be realistic” for Mercedes to beat their arch enemy to market.
Level 3 systems are a significant improvement over Level 2 systems which include Cadillac’s Super Cruise, Tesla’s Autopilot and Mercedes’ current technology. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) says Level 3 systems offer “conditional automation” which means the driver is “not required to monitor the [driving] environment,” but “must be ready to take control of the vehicle at all times with notice.” This as opposed to Level 2 systems where the SAE says “the driver must remain engaged with the driving task and monitor the environment at all times.”
Kaellenius didn’t go into specifics about the S-Class’ Level 3 system, but he has previously said the technology will be priced similarly to other options on the S-Class. That’s not too specific, but the Driver Assistance Package on the S450 is a $2,250 option.
Little else is known about the model, but previous spy photos have shown the sedan will have an evolutionary design and a new interior with an even larger digital instrument cluster.