Blue lights to signify Mercedes-Benz cars driving in autonomous mode

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Turquoise-coloured lights will tell other motorists on US freeways that Mercedes-Benz sedans such as this are driving themselves.

Mercedes-Benz has received approval from US authorities to use turquoise-coloured exterior lights to signify when a car is driving autonomously. 

Approved in California and Nevada – where Mercedes-Benz has received the green light to roll out its Level 3 semi-autonomous driving technology – the lights activate when a vehicle is switched into its autonomous mode, to let other road users know the car’s software is in control. 

They also allow police to identify whether or not drivers are allowed to be engaging in another activity whilst behind the wheel.

Mercedes-Benz says is it chose the turquoise colour – integrated to lights in the side mirrors, headlights and tail-lights – as it “offers differentiation from existing vehicle lighting and traffic signals such as traffic lights or emergency lighting.”

In California and Nevada – as well as select highways in Germany – Mercedes-Benz’s Level 3 semi-autonomous technology allows drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel and eyes off the road, and are even able to legally play games on the car’s touchscreen, but they must be able to take control of the vehicle if required.

The system has only been approved on certain highways during daylight hours, and at speeds of 64km/h (40mph) or less.

The technology – known as Drive Pilot – will be available to order in Model Year 2024 EQS and S-Class vehicles in California and Nevada from early 2024.

In Germany, the Drive Pilot system was approved in 2021, with customer orders kicking off in 2022. The technology has similar conditions of use in Germany, in that it is speed-limited and location-limited.

Closer to home, Mercedes-Benz was spotted in November 2022 testing a previous-generation S-Class sedan with self-driving equipment around Sydney – however the Drive Pilot tech is some time away from being legal to use in Australia.

At the time, a spokesperson for Mercedes-Benz confirmed it is using the vehicle for a range of international trials, in cooperation with US technology giant Nvidia.

“The specific car you have provided photos of is part of a worldwide fleet of data collection vehicles currently testing our next generation [tech],” the spokesperson said.

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