Mercedes adds a new car light color: Blue for self-driving
(CNN) — Most cars in America have, at most, three colors of lights on the outside. There’s white for headlights and reverse lights, red for brake lights and rear lights and, in some cars, amber for turn signals. Mercedes-Benz has just received approval to add a fourth color: turquoise blue lights that indicate when a Mercedes car is driving itself.
Only California and Nevada have approved the new light color. Those are the only states where Mercedes’ “conditionally autonomous” Drive Pilot technology is legal.
Mercedes Drive Pilot can be used in traffic jams on selected major highways when vehicles are traveling at less than 40 miles an hour. Under those conditions, the driver can take their feet off the pedals, let go of the steering wheel and — this is where is it differs from any other driver assistance system — completely take their eyes off the road.
All other driving assistance systems, including Tesla’s so-called Full Self Driving and General Motor’s Super Cruise, require the driver to pay attention to what’s happening around the vehicle. Mercedes’ Drive Pilot allows the driver to take their eyes off the road continuously until the system alerts the driver of a need to take over such as when traffic speeds up. In the meantime, drivers can surf the Internet or play games on the car’s big center screen. (Sensors in the car ensure the driver does not fall asleep, though.)
The light blue color was selected because it’s eye-catching and it won’t be confused with anything else. It’s not similar to the color of any other lights on a passenger car but it’s also clearly different from the darker blue used by police and other emergency vehicles.
The Society of Automotive Engineers recommends this specific blue shade to signify autonomous vehicle operation but Mercedes is the first automaker to receive approval for its use. The lights will appear at the back and front of the vehicle around the taillights and headlights.
The turquoise lights are needed, according to Mercedes, to alert passing drivers and police that the vehicle is under fully automated control. That way, when someone outside the vehicle sees the driver looking away from the road, they don’t think the driver is doing something wrong.
The Mercedes Drive Pilot system will be available on Mercedes S-class and EQS models in Nevada and California starting in early 2024. The technology won’t work on any highways outside of California and Nevada.