Mercedes-Benz claims to be setting “completely new benchmarks” in automated driving with its new Drive Pilot system available in the recently launched, redesigned S-class.

Based on system architecture which enables safe control of all situations which could potentially arise, braking, steering, power supply and some parts of the sensor system are designed with physical and functional redundancy.

The automaker said Drive Pilot was also the world’s first internationally certified such system.

The four core elements of the redundant architecture encompass the braking system, steering, power supply and some of the sensors. This includes environment recognition and handling. The battery, steering motor, wheel speed sensors and algorithms used by the system for data calculation are likewise duplicated. Some aspects of the sensor system are also functionally redundant because their different physical concepts (optical; ultrasound; radio waves) are mutually corroborative, thus ensuring safe operation at all times. This mainly encompasses radar, cameras and a LiDAR. However, ultrasound and moisture sensors as well as microphones also deliver valuable data. Overall, 30 sensors ensure Drive Pilot is reliably able to master the task of driving.

“We are convinced redundancy is the right approach for Level 3 automated driving and beyond,” said Mercedes CTO responsible for development and procurement, Markus Schaefer.

“When it comes to sensors, we also see the use of LiDAR alongside radar and cameras as particularly indispensable. We can compensate for the situation-dependent deficits of one sensor with the characteristics of another. Relying on just one type of sensor would not meet [our] high safety standards”.

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The system controls speed and distance, and keeps the vehicle in its own lane. Under certain conditions and on suitable sections of German autobahn, customers allow the system to ‘drive’ when in heavy traffic or congestion at up to 60km/h (37mph). If one of the primary systems fails, system architecture is able to recognise the situation and safely hand control back to the driver. If the driver is unable to comply with a hand over prompt, perhaps due to medical emergency, Drive Pilot initiates an emergency stop manoeuvre which doesn’t risk traffic behind.

The new S-Class also has pre-installation of Intelligent Park Pilot for future activation of fully automated driverless parking to SAE Level 4.