Stuttgart - Mercedes-Benz has received the green light from German authorities to start producing a highly automated driving system for its S-Class sedan from next year.
Vehicles equipped with the system will enable automated driving at speeds of up to 60km/h in heavy traffic, on suitable stretches of highway in Germany. Following the approval from the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA), they should now be available on the market in the first half of 2022.
"We are the first manufacturer to put conditionally automated driving into series production in Germany," said Markus Schaefer, a member of the management board of Mercedes-Benz and its parent company Daimler.
While in automated driving mode, drivers could perform activities such as online shopping, or processing of e-mails on the car's central display, the carmaker said. If the driver was unable to take back manual control in an emergency situation, the system would automatically make a controlled safety stop, activating hazard warning lights and the emergency call system.
The KBA said that this was the world's first approval for an Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS). The basis for its approval is a UN regulation that defines internationally harmonized safety requirements for automated lane-keeping systems.
In 2017, Germany created a legal basis for level 3 systems for highly automated driving. Level 3 allows temporary automated driving in certain situations. Level 4 allows fully autonomous driving on certain routes, while level 5 is fully autonomous driving that does not even require occupants.