Luxury in Motion with Mercedes self-driving car
Wearable tech and high-performance speakers weren’t the only gadgets on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. Mercedes Benz stole the show with the unveiling of the F 015 Luxury in Motion concept vehicle, a sleek, self-driving luxury car that will give Google´s forthcoming self-driving model a serious run for its money.
While the tech giant’s design looks more like a toy car than a useable vehicle, Mercedes-Benz was out to prove that it doesn’t take a tech company to produce an exemplary self-driving model. Just as the aesthetic advancements in wearable tech of late demonstrate, design can trump functionality – combine both assets, and the product is bound to do well.
To that end, Mercedes envisions cars of the future not just as means of transportation from point A to point B, but as “private retreats,” or lounges of sorts. The F 015 concept lets passengers relax, but still take the controls if they want to, all in an undeniably luxurious space. Google’s model appeals to the minimalist tech wiz, while the F 015 will be the preference of pretty much everyone else.
“Anyone who focuses solely on the technology has not yet grasped how autonomous driving will change our society,” says Dr. Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Mercedes-Benz’s parent company Daimier AG. “The car is growing beyond its role as a mere means of transport and will ultimately become a mobile living space.”
The four-seat F 015 Luxury in Motion features a low-slung front end, smooth roof line and a flat front widescreen, giving the car a sleek, futuristic appearance (the 12-foot wheelbase is almost two feet longer than the S-Class, which gives the interior plenty of extra space). French doors unveil the open-pore walnut wood veneer and “ice-white” nappa leather seats interior of the cabin, accented with metal and glass surfaces for a stunning contrast of warmth and cool modernity.
But the pièce de résistance of the interior is the chair design: the four lounge chairs can face forward normally if the driver wants control (the steering wheel will come out of storage from the dash), but generally the front two seats are swiveled to face the rear seats, creating a more intimate setting. Six display screens create a “digital living space,” giving passengers the ability to interact with the car through gestures or by touch.
On the self-driving front, there are LED displays on the front and rear of the model, as well as a laser projection system on the front, allowing the car to sense traffic and other obstacles around it (the displays glow white when the car is in manual mode and blue when in autonomous). Sounds and spoken instructions are also used to add an extra layer of acoustic safety.
According to Mercedes-Benz, the car’s electric hybrid system allows it to run just under 700 miles on purely electric power, with zero local emissions.
There’s no word on when such a car could actually come to fruition, but if the designs are any indication, the future of self-driving vehicles can’t come fast enough.