Mercedes-Benz has obtained a permit from California regulators enabling them to sell or lease vehicles equipped with a conditional automated driving system in the state. This system, known as Drive Pilot, allows for hands-off and eyes-off driving on specific highways, as approved by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

With this autonomous vehicle deployment permit, Mercedes-Benz becomes the fourth company authorized to operate self-driving vehicles in California. However, it is the first company permitted to offer vehicles with an automated driving system for sale or lease to the public. Drive Pilot allows drivers to engage in activities such as watching videos, texting, conversing with passengers, and utilizing various third-party apps, without the need to monitor the road or keep their hands on the steering wheel.

The deployment permit covers designated highways in multiple regions, including the Bay Area, central valley, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Diego. It should be noted that Drive Pilot differs from fully autonomous systems developed by Waymo, Cruise, Motional, and Zoox, although it shares some underlying principles. Mercedes-Benz's Drive Pilot system relies on a combination of sensors like lidar, radar, and cameras, along with advanced software, to handle driving tasks in specific conditions without active human control.
Drive Pilot operates at speeds up to 40 miles per hour, exclusively during daylight hours, and is limited to certain highways. The system is not intended for use on city or county roads, construction zones, flooded roads, or during heavy rain, heavy fog, or adverse weather conditions that may affect its performance, as specified by the DMV.

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