Mercedes-Benz has just hit Tesla hard with its Drive Pilot system in the race for self-driving cars. The Drive Pilot system is already a reality that can be installed optionally in the S-Class and EQS. At the same time, the technology of Elon Musk, on the other hand, is an eternal promise that, for the moment, has remained in a beta that only a few chosen users test for its development in the United States and Canada.

This technology controls the speed and distance from other vehicles and guides the car within its lane. It analyzes and considers the route's profile, the events that occur, and the traffic signs. It also reacts to unexpected traffic situations and manages them autonomously, through evasive maneuvers within the lane or by braking the vehicle.

The main weakness of this system is that it is only approved to be used on some motorway sections in Germany, at a speed of up to 60 kilometers per hour, which practically limits it to slow traffic jams. Another disadvantage is that it does not allow you to change lanes, and all maneuvers are carried out on the road you are in. But, of course, both inconveniences respond to a purely legislative issue, being the German state which has put limits on the Drive Pilot, since in the Level 2 autonomous driving systems that Mercedes already offers in its vehicles, the active assistant for lane change is included to carry out overtaking entirely autonomously. The speed in the adaptive cruise control can be used even above the road's legal speed.

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Thanks to a change in German law, while using Drive Pilot, the driver can take their hands off the wheel, although Mercedes recommends not holding devices such as a tablet or laptop while the car drives autonomously. But it does not do so out of distrust of its technology but rather to protect users' physique if the airbags go off. Still, the driver must stay awake and be able to take back control if prompted.

When this technology is officially activated in the Tesla, it will also be able to control the speed and distance concerning other vehicles and guide the car entirely on the highway, which on this occasion and as specified by the brand, does include suggesting and making changes of lane if the autogyro function is activated. Furthermore, you can even leave the highway by taking the correct exit.

This autonomous overtaking capacity, which is already offered in the models with 'Autopilot,' would be Tesla's main advantage over Mercedes and, of course, not limiting the speed to 60 km/h and adapting to the limits of the road through traffic sign recognition. Although these advantages may only be on paper, since at the time Tesla offers Level 3 driving in all its cars, it will have to limit the capabilities of its system to adapt to the requirements of each country or state where it circulates.

As shown in the video that we have above, we have already seen some Tesla that not only drives autonomously on highways but also make interurban sections stopping at traffic lights, yielding to pedestrians, taking curves with the naturalness that a driver would and interacting with road signs and traffic lights as a human would. But beware, this is just that beta that we have discussed before. They are tests that are carried out with the express permission of the authorities of the place where the car rolls and with volunteers or experts who evaluate the system to polish it.

According to Tesla, the Full Self-Driving Capability will be able to perform the following maneuvers:

  • Navigate on Autopilot (Beta): Actively guides the car from the on-ramp to the off-ramp of a highway, including suggesting lane changes, navigating at junctions, automatically activating the turn signals, and taking the correct exit.
  • Automatic Lane Change - Helps to move to an adjacent lane on the road when the 'Autosteer' feature is activated.
  • Automatic Parking: Helps to automatically park the car parallel or perpendicular, with a single touch.
  • Summon – Move your car in and out of a tight space using the mobile app or the key.
  • Smart Summon – The car will navigate through more complex environments and parking spaces, maneuvering around objects as needed to find them in a parking lot.
  • Stop and Traffic Sign Monitoring (Beta): Identifies stop signs and traffic lights and automatically slows the car to a stop-on approach, with active monitoring.
  • Auto steering on city streets. This function is proposed for the future since it would not be offered with the current evolution of the system.

Although Tesla's technology seems superior to that of Mercedes due to the number of functions it offers, the truth is that many of these will be conditioned by the legislation of each country through which the vehicle circulates. For example, Germany has been the first country in Europe to adapt its road laws to facilitate Level 3 autonomous driving, imposing a series of limitations that any car must adapt to. In other words, if Tesla wants to make use of its technology, it must limit it to these circulation conditions. This way, it loses the advantage over Mercedes in the speed limit of 60 km/h. Nor will reading traffic signs and traffic lights be of much use now, since you can only drive autonomously along some motorway sections and practically in traffic jams. Not to mention the invocation functions, which at the moment are no more a pipe dream than anything else, since the legislation only allows the car to park only with the driver outside the vehicle, a short distance from the car, and if the driver maintains constantly pressing a button to control the maneuver at all times.

Therefore, Mercedes-Benz has taken the lead in the race for autonomous driving since it has been the first brand to implement Level 3 autonomous driving with its Drive Pilot. In contrast, Tesla has a project more ambitious, but at the moment, it is nothing more than a test with no fixed date for its activation. 

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