Mercedes-Benz has revealed its vision of the future, and it's a self-driving car that can turn into a living room where people can relax, converse with other passengers, or connect with the outside world.
The F 015 Luxury in Motion is the star of the show at the Mercedes-Benz booth at this year's International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The F 015 is still a "visionary concept" car that its maker hopes will be roaming the roads of urban centers constructed strictly for autonomous vehicles by the year 2030.
"Anyone who focuses solely on the technology has not yet grasped how autonomous driving will change our society," said Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes Benz Cars. "The car is growing beyond its role as a mere means of transport and will ultimately become a mobile living space."
Powered by a hydrogen fuel cell that generates electricity to two rear-mounted motors, the F 015 has a total output of 272 horsepower and can go from zero to 62 miles per hour in 6.7 seconds, with a top speed of 125 miles per hour. At 17 feet long and five feet tall, with car doors that open 90 degrees outward like a French door, the F 015 fully maximizes the space in its walnut wood-paneled interior with snow white leather seats and glass trims.
The chairs swivel around to face the other passengers while the steering wheel sinks into the instrument panel for the car to take over entirely with the input gathered by its numerous sensors and cameras.
While on autopilot, the car's grills light up to inform pedestrians, law enforcers and other people outside the car that it is in autonomous mode. In manual mode, the car's lights turn white to tell other people that the driver is in control and turn blue when the car takes over. When it stops, the car projects a pedestrian lane into the road to tell pedestrians that it's safe to cross the street.
Meanwhile, the driver can relax in his seat inside what Zetsche calls his "exclusive cocoon on wheels." He can take in the 360-degree view of the surroundings through the six tablet-like screens on the car's panels, from which he can also navigate and browse for entertainment via features that are not quite supported with the technology we have today, such as gesture controls and eye-tracking features.
Still, Mercedes Benz has plenty of time before its vision becomes fully functional self-driving cars that can morph into moving "lounges" on the road, if the F 015 concept car ever becomes a reality at all.