Mercedes-Benz F 015: Meet the Future Self-Driving Personal Chauffeur

The self-driving concept car features a "lounge-like" cabin with four seats that swivel 90 degrees to let passengers interact.

A lot of products unveiled every year at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) will never see the light of day. They’re concepts meant to create that wow factor.

Let’s hope the Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion is more than just a concept car. The “lounge-like” cabin is the differentiator with the F 015. It has four seats that swivel 90 ° that allow all the passengers to face each other while the car drives itself. When a driver wants to take over, a steering wheel extends from its dock in the dashboard.

“Cars will turn into mobile homes in the very best sense of the word,” Mercedes-Benz CEO Dieter Zetsche said at CES. “Exclusive cocoons on wheels, letting people do exactly what they want or need to do.”

Inside passengers will have direct access to a variety of infotainment thanks to six touchscreens mounted in the instrument panel and rear and side walls.

It also features large LED displays at the front and rear and a leaser projection system for visual and acoustic signals for safety purposes. The LEDs change color based on the car’s current driving mode: white in manual, blue in autonomous, letting those around the vehicle known what’s going on.

Another safety feature that was demoed showed the F 015 yielding to a pedestrian, beaming crosswalk symbols onto the road so the person knew it was safe to cross.

A companion app, meanwhile, allows the car to be remotely controlled: parked, for instance, or summoned to the front door from the garage. The phone - or a wearable - acts as the key, the F 015 automatically waking up and opening its doors when they approach.

The F 015 runs on an electric hybrid system that drives about 683 miles. Fuel-cell power accounts for about 80 percent of total driving distance, while a supplemental battery powers it for the remaining 20 percent.

This isn’t Mercedes’ first dive into self-driving vehicles. In 2013, Mercedes and Nokia HERE collaborated on a proof-of-concept car called S 500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE that autonomously drove around Germany.

We’ll likely never see this version of the Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion on the road, but crazy things can happen. Mercedes was granted permission in late 2014 for conduct road tests for its autonomous prototypes. We can only hope.

About the Author

Steve Crowe · Steve Crowe is managing editor of Robotics Trends. Steve has been writing about technology since 2008. He lives in Belchertown, MA with his wife and daughter.
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