Mercedes-Benz has received permits for special exterior marker lights for automated driving in California and Nevada, becoming the first automaker to do so. These permits will allow the company to test and deploy vehicles equipped with the lights, which will provide valuable insights into the interaction between automated vehicles and other road users.
The exemption permit granted by California is initially limited to a two-year testing period, while the Nevada permit applies to Mercedes-Benz model year 2026 production vehicles and will remain valid until a statutory modification is achieved with the state legislature. The marker lights will be integrated into the front and rear lights and the two outside mirrors of Mercedes-Benz testing vehicles. Their purpose is to visually cue other road users to the status of the automated driving system.
The turquoise marker lights were specifically chosen for their visibility and differentiation from other vehicle lighting and traffic signals. Mercedes-Benz believes that including these marker lights will not only enhance public acceptance of automated driving but also contribute to road safety. The lights will help prevent accidents by clearly indicating the status of the automated driving system, making it easier for other drivers to interact with vehicles operating in an automated mode.
The use of turquoise marker lights to indicate when an automated driving system is active is described in the SAE J3134 Recommended Practice. Studies have shown that turquoise elicits positive feelings and increased alertness, making it an optimal color for automated driving.
Starting with the 2026 model year, Mercedes-Benz will begin equipping production vehicles with these special marker lights in Nevada. The lights will be first implemented with their DRIVE PILOT system. This system is the world’s first SAE-Level 3 system with internationally valid type approval for conditionally automated driving. The DRIVE PILOT system has already received certification in Germany and, more recently, in Nevada and California, where it can be found in EQS Sedans. It’s currently available for order in Germany, and the first production vehicles equipped with the DRIVE PILOT system have made their debut on the freeways of California and Nevada.
Starting in the 2024 model year, DRIVE PILOT will be offered as an option on both the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and EQS Sedan models. The DRIVE PILOT system significantly advances automated driving, allowing the driver to engage in other activities while the car manages the driving in specific traffic conditions.
Mercedes-Benz’s pioneering use of marker lights for automated driving represents a significant step forward in promoting global understanding and acceptance of this technology. By standardizing turquoise marker lights, the company aims to ensure consistency and familiarity for drivers and law enforcement agencies worldwide.