• Automated Driving
  • Advanced Driver Assistance Systems
  • CES 2023
  • Automakers

Hands-Off, Eyes-Off Driving Coming to Consumer Vehicles

Sam Abuelsamid
Feb 02, 2023

Guidehouse Insights

The ability for drivers to go hands-off as they cruise down the road is no longer new or particularly novel. General Motors launched the first hands-off system in 2017 when Super Cruise debuted on the Cadillac CT6. Hands-off systems are now offered by Nissan, Ford, and BMW, with more coming by the end of 2023. These are all hands-off, eyes-on systems that require the driver to watch the road. The next stage is to go hands-off and eyes-off, with Mercedes-Benz set to be the first to offer such a system in North America later this year and systems from Mobileye and others coming in the next few years.

Mercedes-Benz launched its hands-off, eyes-off Drive Pilot system in Germany in spring 2022 in conformance with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s automated lane-keeping system (ALKS) regulation. The ALKS rules at that time required that the system be geofenced to divided highways, include an active driver monitoring system, and be limited to 60 km/h for use in stop-and-go traffic. Since it was launched, the European Union issued the new Vehicle General Safety Regulation that increases the maximum speed to 130 km/h.

The Drive Pilot system leverages a suite of sensors, including surround-view cameras and radar and a forward-looking lidar sensor. During CES 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Mercedes-Benz announced that it had received approval from the state of Nevada to launch Drive Pilot there and hopes to get approval from California soon.

These eyes-off systems correspond to the SAE International classification of Level 3 conditional automation. They offer automated capabilities within a limited operational design domain (ODD) and require the driver to take over if the vehicle goes outside the ODD, such as if a failure is detected or the vehicle exceeds the maximum allowable speed. The Mercedes-Benz system is designed to continue operating for up to 10 seconds after requesting driver takeover. Beyond that, the vehicle will come to a stop.

During his annual CES keynote, Mobileye CEO Amnon Shashua described his company’s approach. Shashua has been strongly opposed to the eyes-off idea in the past but has shifted as his company developed full, brain-off automation where no human takeover is required. Mobileye is now providing a camera-based hands-off system called SuperVision for the Zeekr 001 in China and has contracts for nine vehicles from six automakers. SuperVision is the camera subsystem of Mobileye’s full automation system. Over the next several years, it will be augmented with radar, lidar, and more computing power to become the eyes-off Chauffeur system, which will start with highway driving and evolve to rural/arterial roads and finally urban roads.

A key differentiator between the Mercedes-Benz and Mobileye approaches to eyes-off driving is the need for driver takeover. Shashua doesn’t believe that a system requiring human takeover is actually useful enough to provide value to drivers. In the event that something goes wrong, Mobileye Chauffeur will have the redundancy required to maintain safety long enough for the vehicle to make a full stop in a minimum-risk condition. Mobileye is targeting a consumer cost for its urban Chauffeur system of no more than $5,000 by the time it arrives in 2026.

I’ve experienced SuperVision in action in Michigan twice, once in snowy winter conditions and once on a sunny fall day, and despite the limited control resolution offered by the powertrain in the development vehicle, it performed quite ably, in part thanks to the behavioral data stored in the high definition Roadbook maps.

Guidehouse Insights’ Advanced Driver Assistance Systems report projects that nearly 50 million vehicles with eyes-off systems will be sold annually by 2031, with a 44% market share, and that most automakers and suppliers will have products to offer.