Everyone is taking about progressing from the self-propelled (automotive) to the self-reliant (autonomous) vehicle, and companies are racing to showcase their visions for this future mode of mobility. Unveiled during Mercedes-Benz’s keynote address at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the F 015 Luxury in Motion gives a foretaste of what we could potentially expect from the German luxury automaker.
“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,” explains Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars.
The F 015 Luxury in Motion Concept therefore represents the company’s vision for the new vehicle concept beyond purely technical realization of automated driving. It anticipates different outlooks and social trends, just as the Benz Patent Motor Car revolutionized personal mobility in 1886.
The first self-driving cars will also bring about major changes, and this is reflected in the F 015 research vehicle’s unusual proportions. It looks more like a modernized van than a futuristic autonomous car. Standing 5220mm long, 2018mm wide and 1524mm tall, the monolithic exterior — a keyword in the design process — looks like a solid block punctuated by lozenge-like shapes along the doors.
The low front end, smooth and streamlined roof line, flat front windscreen and rear end give the F 015 Luxury in Motion an extended silhouette. The F 015 Luxury in Motion’s unusually large wheelbase of 3610mm wheelbase in combination with its short overhangs clearly show that the design focus was on providing the maximum possible space for the passengers.
Its large LED light modules at the front and rear offer a range of different lighting functions, and the vehicle is able to communicate and interact with the outside world by means of the LED fields as well as through voice commands. These LED fields show if the F 015 is driving autonomously (blue) or is controlled manually (white), and the car can usher pedestrians across its path. It’s all a bit creepy really.
Mercedes says new materials and structures were used to develop the highly efficient “Smart Body Structure (SBS)” of the F 015, and claim the bodyshell is 40 percent lighter than today’s production vehicles. This was achieved by combining carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP), aluminum and high-strength steels.
Another key element of the body design concept is the ‘saloon’ door system that features front and rear-hinged rear doors that can be opened and closed independently of one another. With an opening angle of 90 degrees for all doors, the interior can be accessed on both sides. And thanks to an interconnected system with mechanical locking elements that interlock the front and rear doors and fix them firmly to the roof frame and side skirts when closed, B-pillars have been rendered obsolete.
Watch the video to see the designers and the car in action.
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