Late last year I became one of the first people in the world not employed by Mercedes-Benz to legally use the company’s Level 3 Drive Pilot autonomous system on a public road. German transport authorities had approved the system for use by regular drivers less than 24 hours earlier.
Fast forward to May 2022, and the Level 3 Drive Pilot system can now be ordered as an option in Germany on Mercedes-Benz S-Class and EQS models. It’s not cheap—Drive Pilot will cost the equivalent of $5300 on the S-Class, and $7900 on the EQS, where it must be combined with the $2600 Driver assistance Package—but the future never is.
Before the official on-sale date I spent some time in a Drive Pilot-equipped EQS on the traffic-choked autobahn that curls around the south and west of Berlin, Germany, in the jovial company of Jochen Haab, who heads the testing of advanced driver assistance systems at Mercedes-Benz.