CES 2015 had an interesting participant in Mercedes who unveiled F015 Luxury in Motion offering a peek into self driving future. It is a bold step by the luxury car maker to introduce such a radical concept car. Its lozenge-like shape gives it the appropriate futuristic look and its interiors seem to have reinterpreted the modern luxury for the connected world. For a rapidly changing world this concept has been developed not just as means of transportation but a private retreating space. Dieter Zetsche, head of Mercedes-Benz cars spoke on the occasion at the event and stressed the point that cars are evolving into mobile living space and it will be wrong to focus entirely on technology. Autonomus driving has the potential to change our society.
The concept car is 17 feet long and has been built with lightweight carbon fiber, aluminum, and high-strength steel. It is as large as a Cadillac Escalade SUV, but sits low as a family sedan. The improvement in technology is not radical and the car’s autonomous systems are guided by stereo cameras, radar, and ultrasonic sensors. It is not a major jump in self driving technology but once you get inside how radical is the concept. There are four lounge style chairs in which people can sit facing one another. There is an option of manual driving also so the front two chairs swivel to face the windshield also. The steering wheel folds into the dashboard when not in use.
What makes the inside really different from a regular car are six display screens in the instrument panel and side rear panels that regularly relay information about whatever is happening outside. It also enables the occupants of the car to play movies or catch some online entertainment. The car is powered by hydrogen fuel cell. It has a battery that recharges by parking it on a charge pad. These concepts will take a long time in becoming commercially viable but the fact remains that basic self driving features like radar-based cruise control, autonomous braking before an accident and lane-keeping assist are being incorporated in high end models. It is possible that in two years some of the high end models might be able to travel autonomously on freeways.