Imagine sitting comfortably in the most luxurious of a limo interior, conversing with friends face to face with leg room to spare, checking email or finishing up that work project all while the car you're taking to your meeting is cruising along with no driver at the wheel. There is a wheel but no one's literally at the wheel.
That's exactly the experience Mercedes wants to provide with its F 015 Luxury in Motion, a computer-driven autonomous vehicle and it's exactly the experience being shared among beta drivers invited to take the F 015 Luxury in Motion for a test drive at a decommissioned Naval base in San Francisco.
Mercedes debuted the silver F 015 Luxury in Motion during January's CES event. Driving will no longer be required in car transportation. The car will no longer be a 'vehicle' for people needing to get somewhere. It will be a place to socialize, work, relax and do anything and everything except having to pay attention to the road and other drivers, safety lights and speed zones.
"It will become the third place you will spend time, after your office and your home," said Holger Hutzenlaub, a member of Mercedes-Benz' Advanced Design team. "In the future, when cities will be bigger and the chaos greater, the greatest luxury goods will be privacy and time," he said, adding, "we're creating a personal retreat."
In development for four years at this point, the F 015 is at its core of a self-driving or driverless car. But as in typical Mercedes fashion, it's a luxurious space for those needing to get to a destination and it's designed for the digital consumer given high-res screens fashioned into all interior panels with high-tech operating features that will tap eye-tracking and touch-control for a rider who may want to jump into the 'driver's seat' during travel.
"People will likely always love to drive, so the idea with the F 015 really is to use technology to make traffic situations less stressful," states Alexander Mankowsky, described as Mercedes' future studies and ideation guru.
The Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion is exactly the high-end of the driverless car spectrum whereas the Google Self-Driving Car, which is also be beta tested this year on California roadways, is what one could consider the basic car of today boasting a computer-driven system.
"We're nowhere near being able to re-create humans with artificial intelligence," notes Mankowsky. "Cars like this one are simply machine intelligence that are making our lives easier."
There are still more than a few glitches to work out, as well as a strategy to entice consumers to tackle which leads most industry watchers believing the Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion won't be arriving at any point in the next decade. The decade after? Well that's a real possibility.