Autonomous driving is the focus of many manufacturers and Mercedes-Benz is one of them.
The German company has revealed as a world premiere the research vehicle F 015 Luxury in Motion at the Consumer Electronics Show. Mercedes-Benz said this fuel cell-powered vehicle provides a concrete example of the visionary ideas the company is developing with regard to autonomous driving of the future.
With this self-driving luxury sedan, Mercedes-Benz stated it illustrates how the car is growing beyond its role as a mere means of transport and will ultimately become a private retreating space. This new way of traveling gives passengers the freedom to use their valuable time on the road in various ways.
Progressing from the self-propelled (“automotive”) to the self-reliant (“autonomous”) vehicle, Mercedes-Benz explained it wants to go far beyond the purely technical realization of automated driving; the company’s experts also have to anticipate different outlooks and social trends. People are always at the center of such considerations and Mercedes-Benz believes the first self-driving cars will also bring about major changes.
“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.
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The low-slung front end, smooth and streamlined roofline, flat front windshield and road-hugging rear end give the F 015 Luxury in Motion, as per Mercedes-Benz, an extended and decidedly dynamic silhouette. The F 015 Luxury in Motion’s unusually large wheelbase combined to its short overhangs show that the design focus was on providing the maximum possible space for the passengers.
In the interior of the F 015 Luxury in Motion the designers have created a lounge-like space including a variable seating system, with four rotating lounge chairs that allow a face-to-face seat configuration. Mercedes-Benz added 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. If necessary, the driver and front-seat passenger can also turn their eyes and attention towards the front – a prerequisite for manual driving. To this end the steering wheel extends automatically from the dashboard.
The German manufacturer explained one key aspect of the research vehicle is the continuous exchange of information between vehicle, passengers and the outside world. This is facilitated by six display screens integrated into the instrument panel and the rear and side panels. Passengers can interact with the connected vehicle through gestures, eye-tracking or by touching the high-resolution screens. Sensors recognize the passengers’ hands and offer them user interfaces within convenient reach that present appropriate operating options for each particular situation.
Using a combination of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP), aluminum and high-strength steels, the lightweight engineering experts were able to make the body shell 40 percent lighter compared with today’s production vehicles, added Mercedes-Benz.
The F 015 Luxury in Motion was designed to allow the impact-protected integration of an electric drive system with fuel cell. This technology is based on the F-CELL PLUG-IN HYBRID system seen in the F 125! research vehicle launched in 2011, and combines on-board generation of electricity with an exceptionally powerful and compact high-voltage battery. The pressure tank made from CFRP is designed to store the hydrogen.