The Problem With Mercedes’s New Drive Pilot system

Mercedes is getting a lot of attention over its Drive Pilot system that it has been demoing to journalists at CES. It is, by all accounts, an excellent update to the current rudimentary Pilot offered on the E class and the first real competition to Tesla’s Auto Pilot system.

Here is the thing, though. These systems are only meant to ‘assist’ the drivers under certain conditions but require the driver to be on alert at all times. This is what makes these systems so unreliable in our opinion. The human element in these cars is always going to be a huge unknown and makes this solution a half-baked alternative to fully autonomous driving.

Tesla introduced its Auto Pilot system almost a year ago, and a lot of competing car companies derided the software for being a public ‘beta’. There was one fatal accident that occurred when the driver behind the wheel of a Tesla trusted it too much and was in no position to take corrective action when necessary.

The Mercedes Drive Pilot system is also similar in that it requires the driver to have a hand on the steering wheel at all times and be ready to take over when the car ‘hands’ itself on to you.

If there is one thing that we can sure about is that humans will test the limits of these systems in ways that Mercedes could not have possibly imagined. Just see the tons of Tesla self-driving videos on YouTube and see the number of near miss that have occurred.

Also keep in mind that Tesla is a tiny company compared to Mercedes. Teeny Tiny. Mercedes will sell its partially self-driving car in way more countries than Tesla does and in much larger numbers. This is one of the reasons why Mercedes and other companies have held off on releasing something before they were absolutely sure they had it right.

The scope of liability for them is simply too high.

We think that the road Google and Ford, in particular, are taking is the one that everyone should look towards. Their internal testing showed that drivers simply trust the driver assist features too much and eventually put themselves in unsafe situations.

The only way to do self-driving is to do it completely. That’s Level 5 autonomy.


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