By David Shepardson
(Reuters) -The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) said on Thursday that German carmaker Mercedes-Benz can deploy advanced automated driving systems on its roads after it completed a self-certification.
The automaker said the Nevada DMV approved its application and is preparing the certificate of compliance that will be issued within the next two weeks.
The “SAE Level 3 conditionally automated driving” system allows a driver to legally take their eyes off the wheel but must be available to resume control if needed. On suitable highway sections and where traffic density is high, the system, called DRIVE PILOT, can offer to take over driving, Mercedes-Benz says.
Mercedes Chief Software Officer Magnus Oestberg told reporters on Thursday Mercedes will have to seek approval to allow Level 3 driving from regulators in each U.S. state. Mercedes has the technology ready to offer limited automated driving in all U.S. states once regulators approve, he said.
The company has applied for certification in California and is optimistic the state will follow Nevada soon.
The Nevada DMV noted it does not issue any permit or license based on an autonomous vehicle’s level of automation and allows all automation levels to operate on public streets.
“Mercedes has certified that their technology meets the Nevada ‘minimal risk condition’ requirement that requires a Level 3 or higher ‘fully autonomous’ vehicles to be able to stop if there is a malfunction in the system,” the DMV said adding it “does not test or certify vehicles.”
The DRIVE PILOT system “gives customers back time so they can focus on certain secondary activities such as communicating with colleagues via In-Car Office, browsing the web or relaxing while watching a movie,” the automaker added.
Other systems currently on public roads like Tesla’s Autopilot or General Motors’ Super Cruise are classified SAE Level 2, which handle some driving tasks but require drivers to pay attention at all times.
Separately, Mercedes-Benz said its Automatic Lane Change (ALC) feature is coming to the North American market. The feature enables the car to automatically initiate a lane change and overtake slower vehicles with the cruise control engaged.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler and Marguerita Choy)