There’s nothing like competition to drive innovation. May the best system win. And may everyone license the best.
From the CNN piece:
Mercedes’ Drive Pilot system is designed to work on highways in dense traffic at speeds of less than 40 miles per hour.
That’s what I would call a bad joke, not competition.
When the system is in operation, Mercedes considers it safe for the driver not to pay attention to the road
When my Tesla is on Autopilot at under 40 mph on the highway, I also consider it safe to not pay attention to the road, the legal CYA of the steering wheel nag nothwithstanding.
The real innovation here is whatever liability management they figured out to feel comfortable giving the driver permission to look away.
I don’t have a dog in this fight, but as I understand it Mercedes is offering Level 3 autonomy up to 40 mph and only in Nevada (can self-drive, human intervention required in some cases). Tesla currently only offers Level 2 autonomy (requires human monitoring). So it could be that Mercedes read the regulations more closely than Tesla and found a sympathetic jurisdiction. Or it could be that Mercedes has a better performing product.
“Offering” in the sense of what the company has determined they will stand behind in a court of law is perhaps not the most useful barometer of what a company is capable of technically. The standard Autopilot for years has been functionally Level 3 at low speed on highways (capable of “traffic jam chauffeur”), and the new FSD Beta is solidly Level 3, where under most conditions and most road configurations the car does not require any input, but the driver must be ready to take over.
Mercedes just happens to be the first to say they’ll take on the legal risk of actually treating their Level 3 system like it’s Level 3.
Tesla has long had a system that performs at level 3 under the conditions that Mercedes places on their system (particular highways, up to 40mph, in traffic). But Tesla is not going to declare its system level 3 until it’s level 3 everywhere (or at least everywhere within some particular jurisdiction like a country), and under all conditions in which humans can drive.
This is just a PR stunt.
Of course, Tesla’s system is nowhere close to level 3 under many circumstances, but under the conditions Mercedes lists, the Tesla system is actually better than level 3 in that it occasionally avoids accidents that humans wouldn’t.
The former, Nevada has lax self driving regulation.
Another difference is that Tesla wants to test their system in multiple places, not just in permissive ones.