New Mercedes S-Class showcases self-driving tech

The first time Level 3 and Level 4 self-driving capabilities have been fitted to a production Mercedes

Graham Hope

September 7, 2020

3 Min Read

The first time Level 3 and Level 4 self-driving capabilities have been fitted to a production Mercedes

Mercedes has finally released pictures and specifications of its all-new S-Class, including a suite of driver assistance capabilities.

The unveiling of a new model of the luxury saloon is always greeted with anticipation, given its status as a technology trailblazer in the automotive world.

And the latest version does not disappoint, introducing a host of hi-tech features, and some impressive autonomous tech.

Perhaps the most eye-catching is the Intelligent Park Pilot function, which achieves Level 4 autonomy. This is the classification that means a driver is no longer required in the car, and that the vehicle can manage all situations by itself in specific areas.

Smart car

With Intelligent Park Pilot, it will be possible for the S-Class to enter and leave car parks equipped with compatible automated valet parking (AVP) infrastructure on its own (assuming local laws allow it to do so).

The driver will have to drive to the designated drop-off area in a multi-story car park; once all passengers have left the vehicle, the process is started via a smartphone app. The sensor system in the car park checks whether a suitable space is available, and if so, the AVP confirms the handover of the vehicle in the app.

The car is then started automatically and drives to its parking space, guided by the sensors installed in the car park. On return, the driver simply informs the S-Class, via the app, in which designated pick-up area they are located, and the car drives itself there.

Intelligent Park Pilot is an optional upgrade on the car’s self-parking system, Active Parking Assist, which utilizes a reversing camera, a 360-degree camera and an array of sensors to deliver automated parking in spaces defined by lines (although not by vehicles).

The S-Class also promises to offer self-driving capability at higher speeds, with Level 3 autonomy to become available on select motorways in Mercedes’ home market of Germany by 2021. Level 3 is considered “conditionally automated”; this means the car takes over driving tasks under certain conditions, but a driver must be present to regain control when prompted by the system.


© Mercedes-Benz

The S-Class’s DRIVE PILOT tech uses a combination of LiDAR sensors, highly precise geographic positioning and high-definition maps to control the car at speeds of up to 60 kilometers per hour (37mph). DRIVE PILOT is activated by the driver via steering wheel controls, and controls the speed and distance from the car in front, while all the time assessing the route and monitoring the traffic signs.

This will allow the driver to enjoy a seat massage, or give them time to browse the Internet, although they will have to be ready to take control in an emergency, if the S-Class requests it.

DRIVE PILOT and Intelligent Park Pilot mark a significant breakthrough, representing the first time Level 3 and Level 4 tech has been fitted to a production Mercedes.

Self-driving capabilities complement a host of intelligent features in the cabin, as well as some more familiar driver assistance tools including Active Steering Assist, Traffic Sign Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Emergency Stop Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist and Attention Assist, which recognizes drowsiness in a driver.

The new generation S-Class will go on sale early next year.

About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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