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Mercedes Self-Driving Vehicles Get Turquoise Lights

The German automaker received approval for the safety initiative to go live in California and Nevada

Graham Hope

December 21, 2023

3 Min Read
A BMW with turquoise lights.
BMW

Mercedes cars that can drive themselves are to be marked out with turquoise exterior lights in the United States.

The German automaker has received approval for the pioneering safety initiative in California and Nevada.

These are the first two states in America where Mercedes is allowed to sell cars equipped with its Level 3 Drive Pilot tech. Level 3 is considered “hands-off, eyes off” automation – i.e. when the car is in control of the driving in certain scenarios.

With Drive Pilot, that means the car can drive itself at speeds of up to nearly 40 mph – although the human behind the wheel must be ready to intervene if required.

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Making other drivers aware of the car’s status when Drive Pilot is enabled is considered extremely helpful, and that’s where the new turquoise lighting comes into play.

In California, Mercedes has been granted a permit that allows it to test the turquoise marker lights for automated driving on freeways.

The approval is for two years initially and will see turquoise lighting integrated into the front and rear lights, as well as the two outside mirrors of Mercedes’ EQS test vehicles.

In Nevada, the approval is slightly different and relates to 2026 Model Year production versions of the EQS and S-Class equipped with Drive Pilot that customers can actually buy.

Related:Mercedes ‘Hands off, Eyes off’ Driving Now Available in the US

Although the application varies, the intent is the same. 

First, it will allow the company to gain insights into how other road users interact with self-driving cars. Mercedes believes that human drivers are more likely to accept automated vehicles if their status is clearly visible.

The lighting will also allow law enforcement to identify that a car is driving itself and determine whether the human driver is complying with regulations during the automated journey.

Turquoise is recommended by the Society of Automotive Engineers as the optimal choice of color for lighting on automated vehicles after numerous studies found it to be the most effective, as it offers good visibility for other road users as well as differentiation from existing lighting colors on cars.

Mercedes says it is keen to pursue a standardization program where turquoise becomes the globally recognized choice for automated production cars.

Commenting on the breakthrough, Markus Schäfer of Mercedes said:
“With the development of automated driving marker lights, Mercedes-Benz is once again setting new industry standards. We are the first automaker in the world to receive such approvals in the U.S., specifically in California and Nevada. 

“The more automated driving vehicles populate the road, the more important communication and interaction between the vehicle and the environment become.”

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About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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