“Hands-free” driving is allowed in France under certain conditions

ARND WIEGMANN / REUTERS An employee demonstrates driving through the Drive Pilot level 3 autonomous driving system in the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class.


An employee demonstrates driving through the Drive Pilot level 3 autonomous driving system in the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

TRANSPORT – The future is here… or almost there. Since this Thursday, September 1, similar to the beginning of the school year, France has officially allowed the circulation of some autonomous cars, although it is still necessary to be patient to really experience these vehicles.

In force since July 14 in Europe, the so-called driving “level 3 autonomy” is now possible in France. Autonomy was previously allowed for level 2 in France (partial automation with speed and direction control, as in the case of the “Park Assist” option, for example).

But to experience level 3 autonomy, it is still necessary to obtain such a model, which is far from an easy task: no manufacturer established on French soil has permission to sell such a model.

Especially since in order to travel on French roads in an autonomous vehicle of this type, it is necessary to respect a certain number of very strict conditions: driving on a road prohibited for bicycles and pedestrians and contains a central separator, does not exceed a maximum speed of 60 km/h (the speed of 130 km/h can be reached soon if the car reaches automatic overtaking) and finally controlled restart the vehicle at any time from the driver’s seat.

What to use especially in traffic jams and other highway traffic jams as well as multiple devices. For some, it seems complicated to see this type of car multiplying before a time.

Mercedes is ahead of the competition

At the moment, only Mercedes seems well placed in Europe to supply these car models to France. But according to the German manufacturer behind the Class S or EQS ranges (with system “Drive Pilot” optional), France is not yet on the agenda: ” We have started discussions with the French authorities, but we cannot give a timetable”, developing a spokesperson for the brand of echoes. Sespecially since this autonomous piloting option requires a complete mapping of the roads in France in advance.

On the Tesla side, we remain cautious. The models currently being tested in the United States are more equivalent to level 4 or 5 in terms of autonomy. As for the more classic models already sold in France, they are considered level 2. Among the French brands, none have been announced before more than two years, especially for the Stellantis group ( Citroën, Peugeot, Fiat, Jeep) intending to collaborate with BMW to develop the first autonomous model at level 3, as stated by France Inter.

Five levels of autonomy

The autonomy of a car is based on an autonomy scale between 0 and 5. At 0, the car has no autonomy system, while it is everywhere at level 5 (no steering wheel, or pedals, which means that the driver has no influence on the course).

At level 3, we prefer to talk about “conditional automation”. In certain predetermined situations, the driver can fully delegate the driving of the car. Although, at this level, the driver must regain control at any time, to compensate for the limitations of the on-board computer, the driver is no longer responsible for driving. Therefore, under the law, a level 3 model means that it is up to the car manufacturer to take criminal responsibility in the event of an accident.

See also at The HuffPost: In a Tesla, he traveled more than 500 km without touching the steering wheel

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