Previously restricted to cars in the US and Canada, Mercedes-Benz has now announced that the ‘Automatic Lane Change’ (ALC) function will now be also be made available for its customers in Europe, bringing the previously SAE-Level 2 driving assistance features in its cars up to “Level 2+”.
The company is currently working on adapting the function to European traffic situations, with the system officially scheduled to roll out alongside the first deliveries of the all-new Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
Mercedes-Benz says that the ALC function is “an integral part” of its adaptive cruise control and active steering assist systems. While driving with both systems activated between speeds of 80-140 km/h, the vehicle can automatically initiate a lane change, and overtake completely all by itself, if it detects a slower vehicle ahead.
With an active route guidance, the system can also assist in navigating exits or changing highways.
Of course, there are still certain limitations and prerequisites for the automatic lane change system. Mercedes-Benz says that the ALC system is only supported on “motorway-like roads” with lane markings and “structurally separated directional lanes”, and the vehicles must also be equipped with the MBUX Navigation package in order to access the function.
Additionally, since it is still classified as a SAE-Level 2 system, the (human) driver is still responsible for the car’s action. As such, Mercedes-Benz requires that the driver’s hands are placed on the steering wheel at all times – even though the car is carrying out the lane change action without driver input.
Mercedes-Benz has been on the forefront of advanced driver assistance features in recent years. Aside from the ALC system, Mercedes-Benz is also notably the world’s first and only marque that has received international approval for its SAE-Level 3 Drive Pilot system.
Already available in Germany and US (California and Nevada), the system allows the driver to hand over driving tasks to the system in certain conditions, particularly in heavy traffic or congestion situations in certain sections of the highways, at speeds of up to 60 km/h.
The company has also received certification for SAE-Level 4 driverless parking, which is already available for commercial use in the Stuttgart airport.