Mercedes-Benz said it had begun trials of vehicles fitted with Level 3 autonomous driving on designated expressways in China’s capital city Beijing to keep pace with the rapidly changing Chinese vehicle market.

The company said it had been conducting Level 3 trials on test tracks in China since 2021 but had now moved to trialling its technology on designated public highways. It was working closely with relevant government departments to develop a Level 3 system for China.

Mercedes-Benz completed construction of its second R&D centre in China in 2020, at its Beijing Benz Automotive Company headquarters in Beijing, dedicated to developing and adapting automotive technology for the local market. The R&D team has been busy adapting the company’s Drive Pilot autonomous driving technology to recognise Chinese road infrastructure, including road signs, markings and bus lanes.

Drive Pilot Level 3 allows cars to be operated hands free in certain conditions such as heavy traffic and on certain sections of highway in Germany at speeds of up to 60 km/h. The technology is already available in the company’s S-Class and EQS BEV models. In China only Level 2 has been made available so far, for the new E-Class.

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By GlobalData

China is now Mercedes-Benz’s largest market with sales this year expected to reach 800,000 units or 40% of the company’s expected 2m sales in 2023.