If you thought your S-class could practically drive on its own, wait until you see the new Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion concept car.
It’s an autonomous luxury car affording a peek into the self-driving future. Appropriately enough, considering the legions of microchips on board, it was shown at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Click here to read about Google's self-driving car.
Merc F 015: a very modern limo
Forget the futuristic, lozenge-like shape of the carbonfibre and aluminium F 015 - this car is all about reinterpreting modern luxury for the connected world.
Daimler says its focus ‘shows how the automobile is changing from a means of transportation to a private retreating space.’ Useful that, when it predicts that 15 new megacities with more than 10 million inhabitants will spring up worldwide over the next 15 years.
So this car is all about turning the vehicle into a private lounge. Four armchairs rotate and swivel like those in a Viano, so you can configure the cabin how you like: in conventional forward-facing layout or for a business meeting. And with a wheelbase of 3610mm - 445mm longer than an S-class - there's a lot of space inside.
The seats swing outwards by 30deg as soon as the rear-hinged doors are opened, to make it easier to get in and out. The pews themselves are wide cup-like chairs that’d not look out of place on Big Brother. Appropriate, that…
A very connected Mercedes
The inside of the F 015 is festooned with six digital screens, turning the cabin into a Pentagon-spec electronic communications hub.
Is this progress? It surely is for the Facebook generation, who can now beam their social media feeds and Youtube videos wall-to-wall as they no longer have to worry about driving. Gesture control and eye-tracking means interacting with the computers was never easier.
But for many people, this will be anathema - their car now begrudgingly becoming yet another Powerpoint presentation. But then this is just a concept car, remember; nobody will be forced to work if they don’t want to. Until the robot rebellion, anyway…
What about the autonomous driving bit?
Ah yes, that rather crucial detail. Merc is remarkably tightlipped on this bit of tech, merely saying the F 015 is electrically powered. So presumably there are no major jumps in self-driving technology, suggesting that it merely uses a mix of radar, laser, hyper-precise GPS and cameras to navigate its way around busy streets.
Note, however, there remains a steering wheel and two pedals tucked away discretely at the front of the cabin. And it should be decent to drive; Daimler claims it weighs 40% less than a typical car of this size, thanks to lightweight materials.
‘The single most important luxury goods of the 21st century are private space and time,’ said Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche. ‘Autonomously driving cars by Mercedes-Benz shall offer exactly that. With the F 015 Luxury in Motion, this revolutionary concept of mobility becomes tangible for the first time.
‘Already two years ago, with the S500 Intelligent Drive we showed on the historical route Bertha-Benz took in 1888 that we have the technology which makes autonomous driving reality in everyday traffic. We have a master plan in place to take the big leap required getting from technically feasible to commercially viable. The F 015 Luxury in Motion demonstrates where this may take us.’