What Is It?
The Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion Concept is a self-driving sedan. The F 015 made its world debut at the beginning of 2015 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, then made its way to NAIAS Detroit for its first car-show appearance. The buzzword here is “autonomous.” It’s a 4-seater where seats can be rotated to face one another rather than forward.
Its shape doesn’t conform to the usual guidelines. This concept (well, Mercedes-Benz calls it a “research vehicle”) provides a moving space that’s optimized for passengers. Don’t be fooled, the F 015 is large to accommodate all of its bells and whistles: It measures out to about 17 ft long and 5 ft high, supported by 26-in alloy wheels. The body uses high-strength steel, aluminum and carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic for a strong, protective passenger cell that’s still 40 percent lighter than today’s cars. Power comes from a hydrogen fuel cell that produces enough electricity for a range of more than 600 miles.
Inside, the steering wheel retracts and a large touchscreen functions as the dashboard. Even the doors have integrated touchscreens. Functions may be controlled by hand gestures or even eye movements. From a design perspective, metal and glass combine with white leather for a cabin that’s modern, yet welcoming.
We have heard of self-parking functionality, but this autonomous vehicle can actually drop off its occupants at their destination, park and return when summoned. Should it encounter a pedestrian along the way, it can project a crosswalk onto the road to signal that it’s safe to cross.
The expectation is that cities will continue to grow and that more people will lead an urban life. That, in turn, makes personal space and time for multitasking even more precious.
Will They Make It?
Perhaps in the year 2030. When Mercedes-Benz began creating this concept, it gathered expert opinions from various disciplines to develop a scenario called “City of the Future 2030+.” It then gave the car qualities, features and functionality that would allow it to succeed in such an environment.
What’s intriguing is that most of its features are already on the road. Cars can parallel-park themselves, maintain a safe margin in stop-go traffic and automatically apply brakes in an emergency. It wouldn’t take much to connect those functions and program them to interact and handle a wider array of situations.
Why It’s Important
As technology rushes forward, it’s hard for most people to keep up. Self-driving cars seem more like science fiction than fact. Mercedes-Benz has conceptualized some of these far-out functions, added them to a vehicle and given them relevance in a context we can understand. Who knows what the future of personal transportation will really be like 15 years from now? At least the Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion Concept can give us an educated guess.