Mercedes-Benz has taken the next step in autonomous driving with the debut of its pioneering F 015 Luxury in Motion – an electric concept car that can drive itself.
Mobile living space
Unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week, Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, described the new self-driving concept as a “mobile living space” – a vehicle that allows passengers to use their time in a variety of ways while on the road.
Designed from the outset as an autonomous vehicle, the F 015 is over 5 metres long and just 1.5 metres high, making it similar in length to an S-Class long wheelbase. Its capsule-like bodyshell is extremely lightweight yet rigid, constructed from a combination of carbon fibre reinforced plastic, aluminium and steel.
The exterior is dominated by a flat front windscreen that sweeps over the roof and striking, LED light modules at the front and rear, which provide a variety of innovative lighting functions.
Inside, the spacious, lounge-like cabin offers swivelling seats that can be turned to face each other while travelling. To make access easier, the electrically powered seats automatically rotate 30 degrees when the doors are opened.
Connectivity between vehicle, passengers and the outside world is a key feature of the F 015. Six high-resolution display screens seamlessly integrated throughout the interior allow passengers to use touch, gestures, or eye movements to navigate, browse, or see outside the car.
The road to autonomous driving
Pioneering technology in the F 015 opens up endless possibilities for interaction, both between the vehicle and its passengers and the vehicle and its surroundings.
Even now, Mercedes-Benz cars are capable of detecting hazardous situations out on the road and reacting accordingly, for example by autonomous braking. And from the C-Class through to the S-Class, there are models driving semi-autonomously on public roads today, equipped with features such as DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist and Active Parking Assist with PARKTRONIC.
“Autonomous driving is one of the greatest innovations since the invention of the motor car,” said Prof Dr Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Group Research and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. “Drivers are relieved of work and stress in situations in which driving is not enjoyable, and the time gained while in their car takes on a whole new quality.”
Just as the 1886 Benz Patent Motor Car and its successors revolutionised personal mobility and, as a consequence, society as a whole, the first self-driving cars will also bring about major changes.
“Anyone who focuses solely on the technology has not yet grasped how autonomous driving will change our society. The car is growing beyond its role as a mere means of transport and will ultimately become a mobile living space,” explained Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars.
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