Mercedes-Benz exec shades Tesla FSD rollout: “Promising too much”

Credit: Tesla Tutorials/YouTube

The head of Mercedes-Benz’s autonomous driving program recently commented on the rollout of advanced driver assist systems to consumers. While the executive did not specifically name Tesla, he subtly expressed his disapproval of the electric vehicle maker’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) rollout strategy. 

While speaking with Australian publication Drive at Mercedes-Benz’s Intelligent Drive Insight event in Melbourne, Jochen Haab, who heads the automaker’s autonomous driving efforts, stated that the rollout of advanced driver assist systems must be a step-by-step process. He noted that by doing so, consumers can build trust in the product. Otherwise, the company could overpromise and underdeliver and consumers’ confidence in autonomous driving could decline. 

“(Rolling out autonomous capabilities) should be a step-by-step approach. Do it slowly, but do it the right way. Build trust, build confidence. We’re concerned about others, let’s say, promising too much. That’s not the way we approach things. The problem is if things are overpromised or do underperform, even if it’s very seldom, the entire trust in autonomous driving itself loses confidence. And that’s a bad thing,” Haab noted. 

The Mercedes-Benz executive also described how the veteran luxury car maker rolls out its advanced driver assist solutions. As per Haab, Mercedes-Benz makes it a point to do a lot of testing before it releases updates to consumers. The automaker uses no beta testers on the road outside company employees as well. This is very different from Tesla’s strategy, which has been using real-world data from its customers to improve Autopilot and FSD. 

“We deal with the risk and then we take the step. We do field validation, we act as if we we’re the customers. We do up to a million kilometers (621,371 miles) with a new system before we give it to the customer. We don’t have beta testers on the road from outside of our company. We have beta testers and they’re Mercedes employees and (only in) the late stage. 

“They’re not even developers in the early stages. They’re trained drivers. Then they’re skilled engineers or testing drivers. And then, eventually as it matures, we even have factory workers, cooks, security — it’s an incentive program actually — but we have measuring devices in the car so we always know what’s going on,” the executive said. 

Mercedes-Benz’s Drive Pilot is a Level 3 autonomous driving suite that is available to consumers in select areas. While Drive Pilot exceeds FSD in the way that it is a Level 3 system, its is quite limited, as it only works in clear weather, during daytime, and only on some specific freeways in California and Nevada in the United States. It also only works when the vehicle is traveling less than 40 miles an hour. In comparison, Tesla’s FSD is designed to work anywhere conditions, including inner city streets, anytime, and in most weather conditions. 

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Mercedes-Benz exec shades Tesla FSD rollout: “Promising too much”
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