We keep being told that autonomous vehicles ‘are here’, that ‘they’re coming’ and that they will forever change mobility for the masses in the near future. While that may be true, we needn’t hold our breath. The fact is that even though an Audi can complete a 560-mile journey to Las Vegas from Silicon Valley on its own there are still a multitude of legislative hurdles that need to be overcome before autonomous cars become commonplace on public roads.
That doesn’t stop companies from showcasing their visions of future mobility employing the technology, and what better place to do so than at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, the venue Mercedes-Benz chose to showcase their latest take on the autonomous concept: a four passenger vehicle dubbed the Luxury in Motion Concept that has more in common with a private luxury jet than an automobile.
The vehicle’s autonomous driving capabilities follows on from the Future Truck 2025 concept unveiled at the IAA Commercial Vehicle Show last year, but with an interior designed to cater to work, relaxation and communication the car includes rotating lounge chairs that allow a face-to-face seat configuration. And in order to make getting in and out of the car easier, the electrically powered seats also swing outwards by 30 degrees as soon as the doors are opened.
“With the F 015 Luxury in Motion we wanted to design a luxurious vehicle with a lounge-like ambience in the interior, which combines sensuality with purity in a very special way and appeals equally to the intellect and to the emotions, thereby exerting a natural appeal,” says Daimler VP of Design Gorden Wagener. “In addition, its exterior had to signal its visionary and pioneering character at first glance.”
One key aspect of the research vehicle is the continuous exchange of information between vehicle, passengers and the outside world. Six display screens harmoniously integrated into the instrument panel and the rear and side panels, which turn the interior of the F 015 Luxury in Motion into a digital arena, facilitate this. Passengers can interact intuitively with the connected vehicle through gestures, eye-tracking or by touching the high-resolution screens. Employing laser projection and LED displays, the electrically propelled F 015 Luxury in Motion establishes contact to the outside world and is a real social partner in traffic.
Mercedes-Benz is calling the F 015 Luxury in Motion the “forerunner of a mobility revolution”, and it well could be. But the look into the future of mobility when we’re still realistically 20-30 years away from seeing autonomous vehicles implemented into daily routine seems more than a bit premature. Even the most visionary thinkers could not have predicted a society full of people that wander through streets staring down at a screen held in their hands. Things change.
While it’s nice to anticipate this future trend, we can’t help but feel a bit skeptical. I want wings on my autonomous car in 20 years, not thin wheels…